The number of different devices carrying SIM cards is growing by the day. The development of the ‘internet of things’ has meant many more devices now have connected capabilities. This presents a significant opportunity for the mobile industry to sell airtime to these SIMs. However, that potential has not been exploited to the fullest by operators and MVNOs, as Wi-Fi remains the most popular way to connect a device. This is something that Transatel is looking to change with its new offering, SIM901.
Transatel CEO Jacques Bonifay has witnessed the effects of SIM-based technology on the consumer and believes its potential is huge: ‘People get addicted to the connectivity. Currently Wi-Fi is the norm, but going forward we see 3G developing across other non-mobile devices, such as tablets and laptops. There are certain weaknesses connected to Wi-Fi systems, such as security and ease of use, which become even more acute when travelling. We have developed universal SIM cards to solve these issues. Manufacturers like this because it means they don’t have to swap out the SIM depending on which country they are in. At the moment there is a major push from the networks to develop 3G data as the operators look for more growth areas.’
Bonifay believes that the variety that exists in the Transatel product portfolio puts the firm in an advantageous position when it comes to exploiting the connections in newly installed SIM devices: ‘We are very flexible with the services we can offer; operator and aggregator are just two of the roles we can play, depending on what the client wants. It’s this range of services that we offer that makes us attractive to manufacturers. We can do as much or as little as they need us to.’
Transatel has already made progress with the SIM 901 service and is in discussions with a number of different partners, as Bonifay explains: ‘We are in a series of discussions with several partners – hopefully we can get something agreed by May or June in the UK, although the service is available in France at the moment. It’s an area that is only going to become more relevant as a larger number of devices become connected to one another.’
Soft launch ahead of the big push
Transatel’s SIM 901 service had a soft launch ahead of a major push next year. The organisation has been gauging consumer’s reactions to the service and tailoring it based on what they tell the brand. The company is looking to roll out within its Transatel mobile network at the start of the year, and would like to push it through a partner brand by the end of the first quarter.
Understanding the right customers to target with SIM 901 will be critical in determining whether it takes off. To this end, Transatel has organised itself in a way that will attract customers, as Bonifay explains: ‘It’s a different business unit relying on the same technical architecture. The Transatel area of expertise is in activating the lines and managing the SIM card – taking care of the billing if need be. These skills are transferable to a connected environment or an M2M space, although commercially they are very different. We want to demonstrate to our partners that we can set up these services from the registration services, and they can put Transatel in the middle to make these connections.’
A dynamic environment
Transatel is a major player in the MVNO space, and it is an area that can be changeable at times, as Bonifay explains: ‘The market is quite dynamic; we recently signed a deal with the UK Post Office, which shows there are still new entrants coming into the market. It is a very competitive space though, and some firms are folding as a result. The UK has a great diversity of MVNOs – mobile operators recognise the value in the MVNO market. The British market is quite stable compared with other European countries; France, for example, has a lot of disruption, which can be difficult.’