Tech product managers with any familiarity with the mobile messaging app space will be aware that many have opted to branch into the social platform playbook (think Line and WeChat, for example); but New York-based UppTalk (which began life in 2011 in Barcelona, Spain) has a different plan. It’s taking on mobile carriers with its latest offering, UppWireless.
Pared down prices
And product managers working for mobile carriers might just start to feel a little nervous: UppWireless promises to pare costs right down by being a SIM-based, all-IP mobile phone service.
Jochen Doppelhammer, UppTalk’s founder and CEO, says that users will get the best deal with UppWireless because it’s unbundled mobile data from carrier text and voice. That means it can offer a hefty 1GB of data for just $15 per month at 4G speeds; and, via its Over the Top (OTT) service, it’s offering unlimited text and talk within Canada and the U.S. (unlimited data is available for $35 per month).
The more observant product manager may note that FreedomPop offers its rival data, text and talk service for just $5 a month, but Doppelhammer insists this isn’t comparing apples with apples. FreedomPop offers just 500MB of data for this price and users who want the $5 deal must pay for two years’ service upfront.
Warning to carriers: disruption ahead
Although UppWireless piggybacks on T‑Mobile’s 4G network, it’s not a straight mobile virtual network operator. Doppelhammer explains that it resembles an MVNO in some respects but with a key difference: everything UppWirless does is IP-based, so there are no cellular minutes or SMS. He went on:
“We’re 100% cloud-based service platform. This allows a completely different service offering and of course pricing strategy, e.g. calls & texts to any US & Canada phone number are free, unlimited! The user basically just chooses the data plans that fits best his needs.
“This caters specifically to the target segments that primarily want to use their apps on their smartphones and only secondarily use their phone to talk & text, which probably by now is the majority of the smartphone users.”
The new offering, we think, has got legs. In the U.S. at least, the stale pricing structures of mobile carriers are ripe for a little disruption. UppWireless looks poised to give them a good shake.