Telecoms company launches flat rate mobile GSM network across the world
Mint Telecom, the world's first global GSM mobile telecoms company, today announced a simple, pre-pay service that will save UK businesses millions on international roaming calls. The Mint worldwide network has taken four years to develop and incorporates 240 networks in 114 countries across the world.
With no contracts, no registration fees, no monthly line fees, no bills and no roaming deposits, Mint can cut the cost of phone bills for UK companies and individuals. By evaluating its roaming charges, one major UK based multinational discovered that the company could have saved £238,000 in just one year just by using Mint.
The 16 million businessmen and women who travel out of the UK every year** Source: 1999 UK Civil Aviation Authority Passenger Survey Data currently face a confusing tangle of tariffs and charges levied by overseas network operators for incoming and outgoing calls while they
are travelling. For example:
· Calling London from Moscow costs £3.43 per minute with BT Cellnet - the same call costs £0.85 per minute with Mint
· Often travellers have to put down a cash deposit before they can make any roaming calls - in the UK this can be £200-300 and as much as £3000 in Saudi Arabia
· Receiving a call in Brussels costs £0.94 per minute with BT Cellnet - Mint charges just £0.425 per minute, a saving of more than half
· Vodafone charges £4.50 per minute to call Hong Kong from Moscow - the same call costs £0.85 per minute with Mint
· Many overseas operators trap UK visitors onto the highest paid tariffs without their knowledge
Adrian Wood, Director, Mint Telecom said: "Roamers just don't realise how much they are being disadvantaged by the spaghetti of agreements, tariffs and charges they are faced with. It really puts the cost of international roaming into perspective if you think that the top 80 companies in the UK currently spend £200 million a year in roaming. Through the use of Mints products and services, this cost could be reduced to £120 million."
He continued: "Via our strategic alliance roaming partners, Mint has more network coverage in more countries than any other GSM operator in the UK, so we are already a worldwide brand. We have taken the time to develop our global network over the last four years, which is a reflection of the 100 years combined experience that Mint's senior management group has in the telecoms market. We aim to have 400,000 Mint customers in the UK by the end of the first year."
When Mint users leave the UK, they simply insert their Mint BasicCard (or use a Mint RefreshCard to top up call units) into their handset and use their unique Mint number. Through the use of Lucent switch software technology, calls to a user's existing domestic mobile numbers is recognised through a central database and re-routed to the Mint service.
Colin Mackenzie, Board member of the EVUA (European Virtual Private Network Users Association and leader of their Wireless Special Interest Group) said: "Our member companies are experiencing very high international roaming charges. It is extremely difficult to control the cost of mobile communications if telephone call charges can only be established when the next bill is received. A flat rate system will be seen by many as an ideal way of addressing this and should lead to significant savings not just in call charges but in administration costs."
John Sale, Director of EVUA said: "Despite the fact that international business practices are now truly mobile, the costs of international mobile roaming have not decreased and the services on offer have not improved. This means that the way business is conducted is moving diametrically to the way the industry is moving, because the industry is consumer driven. Mint is an extremely credible player in the market. It is flexible to work with, listens to the needs of companies and is willing to work organisations such as ourselves to improve services."
Ewan Sutherland, Director at INTUG (International Telecoms User Group) commented: "We are anxious to see a reduction of international roaming charges. The only way that this can be achieved is through the introduction of new players and services, such as Mint, entering the market and driving down prices by increasing competition."
The Mint plan is a flat minute rate worldwide, £0.85 to make a call and £0.425 to receive a call from any country to any country in the world. Mint works on all frequencies: 800, 900, 1800 and 1900 GSM, the Nextel iDEN standards as well as satellite systems for those more remote, out-of-the-way places.
In addition to very wide coverage, Mint's service comes fully equipped for the mobile Internet. Sending and receiving e-mail, SMS, information services (weather, breaking news, stock exchange indices, commodities, currencies and more) and Internet access are available.
Mint offers receiving e-mail, receiving SMS, refresh calls, credit balance enquiry all at no cost. Sending SMS or e-mail is just £0.09 per message, from any country to any country worldwide.
Mint cards can be bought via the Mint web site (http://www.mint-tele.com), through the Mint call centre (0800 00 33 55) or from any of the Mint authorised outlet stores nationwide.
Mint is working in partnership with European Telecom to develop a distribution strategy within the UK and Ireland.
Notes to editors
For further information contact:
Tel: +44 (0)7867 804 804
Jessica Norrie/Laura Mendham
020 8600 6752/6741
Or visit http://www.mint-tele.com
For more information about the EVUA, visit the EVUA website (http://www.evua.org.uk) or call Johan Sale on +44 1491 578186
For more information about INTUG, visit the INTUG website (http://www.intug.net)
Mint is the first GSM mobile roaming operator to offer a single fixed
tariff worldwide. The Mint network operates in more than 114 countries
across the world and incorporates over 240 networks.
Founded in late 1999 by Fritz K. Wolff (Managing Director) and Adrian
Wood (Director), Mint currently employs 22 operations, professional and
management staff. Mint's founding members and associates have direct
experience in more than 30 countries, with cellular project planning,
implementation and management, and have spent over 4 years researching
and laying the foundations before launching the project.
Mint is a 50 per cent stakeholder in the new third GSM operator in
Iceland, has associate companies in nine countries within the Middle
East and two affiliates in Asia-Pacific.
About International Mobile Roaming
International roaming is a service offered to mobile users who use
their GSM and other handsets on foreign networks whilst travelling
abroad. Call costs are determined by the network operator where the
call is originated and often the user's home service provider adds on
special fees or charges.
The absence of regulated or consistent charges for country to country
calls, means network operators offer users a series of complex and
confusing international roaming charges, with hidden costs and
loopholes plaguing those who use their mobile across International boundaries.
Many users do not realise that operators charge for receiving mobile
calls, which in some cases can cost much more than making calls in the
users' home country.
Users are further confused by gross inconsistencies in tariffs. For
example, Danish people pay more to call home from Italy than Italians
visiting Denmark pay to call home, even though they might use exactly
the same networks.
About European Telecom
Established in 1990, European Telecom is a market-leading value added
distribution and cellular solutions company, listed on the London Stock
Exchange and headquarters near Heathrow, UK. European Telecom has
business partners in more than 30 countries worldwide. It has in-depth
knowledge of cellular product development and availability, as well as
strong business partnerships with key manufacturers and network
operators throughout Europe, Middle East and Africa.
The company has international subsidiaries in France, Holland, Austria,
Spain and South Africa, as well as wholly-owned UK subsidiaries - The
Accessory Group (TAG) and ServiceXpress.
In addition the company participates in a 50/50 joint venture with
Racal, called Global Telematics plc, which combines GSM, GPS and SMS
technologies to provide route planning, traffic information, vehicle
security, fleet management and driver information services to the
private and public sectors.
A new wholly owned subsidiary, e-Vita, was formed in January 2000 to
facilitate the boom in prepaid commerce. E-Vita will provide new
electronic ways to prepay for every day services such as prepay
vouchers, Internet, broadcasting and ticketing services.
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