Hefty Roaming Charges? Simgo’s Virtual SIM Could Cut Rates By 90%
Have you ever returned from a vacation to a phone bill that cost more than your plane ticket? Now, you don’t have to pay for roaming anymore. An Israeli startup has come up with an innovative solution that allows your phone to choose the cheapest local service and data carrier when traveling to 100 countries around the world.
Simgo simply replaces the SIM card inside your smartphone with a clip-on case that connects to its cloud-based system. The software selects the best local virtual SIM card in the “cloud” and uses it to place the call – using your original phone number.
This unique solution allows frequent travelers to avoid hefty roaming charges, the company claims. The price of the clip-on case is currently $120, and users also pay a small daily fee that’s 50-90 percent lower than typical roaming charges, according to Simgo. The case is currently available only for select Samsung Galaxy and iPhone devices.
“Our virtual SIM platform enables us to reprogram any SIM card in a supported device with any identity that we would like to have,” Simgo CEO Avi Ben-Shlush tells NoCamels. “We decouple the user from the operator.”
The startup has already signed several contracts with cellular service providers in order to provide service around the globe. Currently, Simgo is attracting new customers by offering a pay-as-you-go plan, which can be monitored through a mobile app that keeps track of usage, and warns when you are about to pass your preset limit.
Founded in 2012 by Ben-Shlush, CTO Nir Berman, and VP of business development Eyal Shmueli, Simgo has so far raised $7 million, mostly from private investors in Israel, the US and Singapore.
Entering a crowded arena
Simgo’s direct competitors include WorldSIM and Movirtu, but Ben-Shlush claims Simgo’s solution is more comprehensive because it offers a combination of a virtual SIM management platform and a roaming solution within one product.
In the near future, Simgo plans to expand its offering into Wi-Fi services on local and international buses. Adding Wi-Fi services enables Simgo to automatically switch between providers while their customers are traveling across borders. Ben-Shlush expects to install this technology in 3,000 busses traveling around Europe next year.
Since Simgo’s clip-on case is limited to Samsung and iPhone devices at this time, the company is developing a new solution called Simgo Inside. It will allow smartphone manufacturers to embed the virtual SIM hardware inside their products and charge extra for the roaming service.
Simgo Inside “enables manufacturers to turn a one-time sale of a device into recurring revenue,” Ben-Shlush tells NoCamels.
Shmueli is confident that the Simgo platform will disrupt the cellular market. “Nowadays, if you want to switch cellular carriers, you need to call them and let them know you want to switch, and then you need to get a new SIM card, and put it in your phone,” he explains. “With a reprogrammable embedded SIM, it will be all done over the air. This is the future and this is where the world is going.”