Sky-High Roaming Charges Open Door For New VoIP Solutions

In an effort to curb the astronomical costs of international cell phone roaming, a majority of Fortune 1000 companies are trying to find alternatives. Forty percent of companies are curbing -- or even forbidding -- the use of cell phones and other wireless devices when their executives are travelling abroad, according to the research from CCMI. The report noted that 37 percent of surveyed companies said the spend at least $1,000 per user on average wireless roaming costs.

According to the study, 57 percent of survey respondents have formal mandates aimed at reducing international wireless expenditures. That indicates a solid opportunity for telecom VARs that can provide cost-effective solutions.

"These survey findings highlight the fact that among the biggest organizations in the country, the cost of roaming is a genuine pain point and significant expense item," said Gary Cohen, senior vice president and general manager at Truphone Americas, a global wireless carrier, which commissioned the study. "There is also evidence that small- and midsized companies are burdened with the same challenges."

Truphone sells its service in the U.K. and is aiming to introduce service in the U.S. and several other countries this year. Truphone offers multiple local numbers on one SIM card, which lets customers reach each other more cost effectively than traditional international calling methods.

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With some respondents pointing to single monthly charges of between $10,000 and $200,000, the roaming cost problem is one that solution providers' customers may face sooner rather than later. Aside from Truphone, VoxOx In Business, a division of Telcentris, also offers a cost effective way to tackle the problem.

"VoxOx for travellers is a neat solution to this problem," said VoxOx' Tad Nikolich, vice president of Business Sales. "You can call Yugoslavia, for example, for two cents per minute, vs. $2 a minute." The company bills itself as a competitor to Skype and Google Voice, and the service can be extended to cell phones, texting and Instant Messaging, providing a unified communications platform for business travellers at an affordable price.

"The key take-away from the survey is that virtually all respondents demonstrate a high degree of correlation in their desire for a more effective solution to control runaway wireless roaming costs," George David, president of CCMI, said. "For a player that brings a high quality service to bear, this is a clearly valuable market niche."