Wonet allows you to have low international calls prices Make and receive calls using a virtual number
Interview with Joseph Ged
Partner - Wonet
What is the Wonet app and What is the novelty of the services Wonet offers?
Wonet offers two main services: voice and data. Customers can download the app and subscribe to both or either one for a monthly fee. The novelty of Wonet is that customers can receive and make calls through their own number free of roaming charges wherever they are in the world, bypassing the hefty roaming fees. Wonet customers can also call other Wonet users for free.
Our advantage, compared to Skype, is that we offer this highly competitive service free of charge on the customer’s main number. This is an important step forward in terms of customers’ comfort. Originally, we started in France providing clients with a similar service on a secondary number, just like Skype and another 300 companies do. In this crowded market, we did not have a truly competitive edge. Then, we concluded that customers do not want to change their number. Thanks to a technological breakthrough that is under patent review by the European Patent Office, we have managed to offer the same service on the same number; thus, raising the bar higher for the whole market. In simple terms, this technological breakthrough consisted of taking the voice out of the SIM and storing it on the app. This means that even when taking off the SIM, you can be reached anywhere on your own number, which is not the case before. So far, the service has been commercialized in 40 countries (mostly in Europe and the US); where voiceover IP is legal and permitted. The second main service is data. This is driven by a physical data SIM, which we deliver to any destination in the world. Currently, we offer six data packs corresponding to the six continents (i.e. Europe, the US, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, and APAC); however soon we will offer one data world pack that would cover all 150 countries.
Do you intend to empower operators?
Today Wonet is shifting strategy and focusing on partnering with Mobile Operators to empower them offering free roaming services for their customers, Roam Like At Home (RLAH) services.
Roaming fees are negotiated between the operators of different countries. Unfortunately, this is nothing but a volume game; in regions with a big volume, such as the EU, operators have the power and strength to negotiate competitive prices, while individual operators in the Middle East or other regions do not, thus the higher roaming prices. Mobile Operators in the region have gradually lost importance because they have maintained high roaming prices despite the free-of-charge services offered by apps like WhatsApp, which was first used internationally to bypass roaming fees. Wonet’s business model is to tackle this precise aspect, empowering mobile operators from all regions. We want to be perceived as roaming partners for the mobile operators, not as business disruptors. In countries where voiceover IP is not permitted (such as some countries the Middle East); Wonet has little competitive value in local market services. For this reason, partnerships with country operators will be the focus of our regional strategy. Our value proposition to Mobile Operators is that, by offering the people the right price and data on their regular mobile number, users will move away from WhatsApp, at least when they travel. This will change the declining trend of roaming revenues that operators have been experiencing recently.
What is your strategy and what are your goals for 2019?
We are in an advanced discussion with the two main Lebanese operators, Alfa and Touch. Our goal is to launch services in Lebanon in 2019. We have plans for out-of-country services in Iraq, the UAE, Jordan and other countries. We look forward to having minimum four operators in three to four countries and exploring partnerships with additional operators. We want to empower mobile operators to be able to set their own price on roaming without being dictated by the large groups about the costs, which have a ripple effect on the retail price of the end user.
Technological breakthrough that takes the "voice" out of the SIM
Voice service available in 40 countries
Data service available in 150 countries