Anywhere SIM’s CEO has told Mobile that the issue of signal coverage is ‘still a major problem
despite the loud noises from network operators’.
Matthew Wright is about to launch Anywhere SIM in the UK, a proposition that provides users with a free SIM card that automatically switches signal between O2, EE and Vodafone, depending on which is the strongest.
‘The time is right’
He explained that while connectivity has improved for the majority of the UK, a minority is still without signal. Wright says that Anywhere SIM will act as a solution to those users, explaining ‘there must be a better way for someone in that situation’.
Wright said: ‘We’ve been working on this for a few years now, but more recently for the past nine months. We identified a problem in the UK with mobile coverage in areas where there is crossover with operators, and that often resulted in people having poor experiences, no experience or just up-and-down experiences in terms of coverage. We thought there must be a better way for someone in that situation, so we managed to develop a proposition that basically selects the strongest network for the user’s particular location.
‘Traditional MNOs are very focused on the vast majority; we see ourselves as solving a common problem that a big-enough proportion of the UK experience. In the past it’s been financially difficult to deliver a solution, but now all of the ingredients exist to deliver a competitive proposition. The time is right and the problem is big enough for this to prove very popular.
‘The biggest problem is making a service that is comparable to an existing service. One of the problems has been delivering a roaming service with all of the functionalities you’d expect in the UK, such as sensible price points, and so on. They haven’t existed at the same time to deliver a suitable product and the time is right now.’
Wright said: ‘Despite all of the loud noises from various mobile network operators about improving coverage, the problem is improving for the majority, but for the minority it is still a major issue. This will continue as new technology comes to market and the focus will switch from old tech to new tech. When 3G came along, all of the effort went into improving 3G access and 2G was ignored, the same happened with 4G.
‘This will be an ongoing problem. Providing the majority with excellent coverage is relatively straightforward, but it will always be difficult to cover the minority, as economically it’s very difficult to have blanket coverage across the country. This will always be a problem, but we hope to provide a solution. Our focus is on the UK first, closely followed by the rest of the EU; we have a clear roadmap in terms of what that looks like.’
The service will consist of six free pay-as-you-go SIM cards, which users can then top up, with different prices consisting of varying levels of service. Wright explained that SIM cards will range from £10 to £120, with the latter offering 365 days of ‘anywhere’ signal coverage.
He described the new service as one that operates ‘a UK number with an international SIM card’, partnering with a European service provider to deliver the competitive offering. The choice to focus initially on the PAYG market came from Anywhere’s offering, which Wright claims is one of a kind.
He said: ‘Indirectly we have a relationship with all the networks, but primarily we work with a non-UK mobile network and use a SIM, but unusually that SIM has a UK mobile number. There is a light premium because we’re running on top of established MNOs, but for the type of person we’re building the service for, it’s a very competitive proposition.
‘The reason we looked at PAYG was because no one else had done it. There’s a massive requirement for this type of service. We’re hoping by the end of August to be fully operational and, as far as we know, we’re the one and only PAYG service in the market. There’s always going to be competition but we don’t know of anyone else that plans to enter the market.’