Do you make a lot of international calls? Do you find the current mobile networks a little - shall we say - expensive? Then the Australian launch yesterday of European phone company Lebara Mobile in Australia will be welcome news, considering their international rates start at just 5c per minute.Operating as an MVNO network off the back of Vodafone here in Australia, Lebara will be offering their prepaid SIM cards as an alternative to calling cards.
All local calls will be handled on the back of Vodafone's network, but international calls will be passed onto the Lebara Mobile international switched network, then directed to the relevant country, allowing for cheaper calls.
This won't be for everyone though. Even though they claim competitive local rates, it's the international rates that they're actively pursuing, and as such will be targetting distribution of their SIM cards in multicultural locations.
LEBARA MOBILE LAUNCHES AUSTRALIA'S FIRST PREPAID SIM CARD FOR INTERNATIONAL CALLS - Partners with Vodafone as MVNO and e-pay for recharge services - March 30, 2009 - Europe's leading provider of high-quality, low-cost international mobile services, Lebara Mobile, has entered the Australian market.
Partnering with Vodafone Australia as a new Mobile Virtual Network Operator (MVNO), Lebara Mobile is launching Australia's first prepaid mobile SIM card for consumers that offers low-cost international call rates from 5c per minute.
Lebara Mobile's success, which has seen it generate more than $A400 million in annualised revenues and acquire over three million customers across Europe since launching just eight years ago, is based on the simplicity of its product. No access codes are required, allowing consumers to simply buy a prepaid SIM card, activate it online or in-store and insert it in any unlocked mobile phone handset to make international calls anywhere, anytime.
The prepaid SIM card offers competitive local call rates, so customers can also take advantage of low-cost local, national and international calls without the need to switch between SIM cards.
Vodafone Australia will provide the network infrastructure for Lebara Mobile customers to make calls in Australia. International calls are passed to the Lebara Mobile international switched network, and routed seamlessly to their destination.
Lebara Mobile founder and chief executive Yoganathan Ratheesan said the Australian launch was an important new proposition for the local telecommunications industry. "The Lebara Mobile offering allows customers to treat international calling as part of their day-to-day life using a prepaid mobile phone SIM, rather than having to find a landline to call friends and family abroad," Ratheesan said.
"We are providing, for the first time, a simple, clear and low pricing structure that doesn't cut minutes and is more transparent than other international calling rates and offers." Vodafone Australia CFO Dave Boorman said: "Lebara Mobile has been a partner with Vodafone since launching in Spain in 2007 and then the UK later that year. The partnership has been an outstanding success and we are delighted to welcome the company as an MVNO partner in the Australian market."
Australia offers significant growth potential for Lebara Mobile. Australia has 4.9 million foreign-born residents, representing 24 per cent of the population1. There are 10.15 million prepaid mobile services, representing 47 per cent of the mobile market2, while the prepaid calling market is estimated at $A1.3 billion3 in airtime.
Lebara's extensive market research identified the opportunity for a trusted international calling proposition that would benefit the biggest users of international calls - multicultural communities, temporary foreign residents, travellers and international ex-pat groups who want to regularly phone their family and friends abroad.
This effectively means that Lebara Mobile is taking on the international calling card sector. "An extremely competitive pricing structure, coupled with multi-lingual customer services via phone and online, is a unique offer for this large potential customer base who currently show little loyalty to any one international calling provider," said Ratheesan.
Lebara Mobile SIM cards and recharge vouchers are available to purchase online now and SIM cards and recharge scratch cards will be distributed to resellers in a highly targeted distribution strategy from today.
This strategy will focus on reaching Lebara Mobile's primary target market of multicultural Australians and long-term travellers through independent retailers in Sydney and Melbourne CBDs and suburbs, including grocers, service stations, newsagents and other outlets that are trusted community retailers.
An established partnership between Lebara Mobile and e-pay in Australia and abroad means that electronic recharge vouchers are now available to purchase in over 3,800 independent retail outlets, where the e-pay symbol is displayed. Recharge is also possible online or via mobile handsets for pre-registered customers.
"We will continue to strengthen our relationship with e-pay and seek other partnership opportunities, as we have already done in Europe, to offer Australian customers the same reliable, accessible, easy-to-use mobile service that over three million customers already benefit from internationally," Lebara Mobile's Ratheesan said.
Lebara Mobile offers free calls from Lebara to Lebara and also launches with an aggressive offer of 50 per cent extra credit free on all recharges.
For stockists, e-pay outlets, pricing and terms of business, go to www.lebara-mobile.com.au.
Head on over to the Lebara website if youw ant more details on call rates and where to buy their SIM cards... [Lebara Mobile]