KnowRoaming, a Toronto startup that developed a technology meant to offer travellers reduced roaming rates when using their cellphones abroad, is now making its product widely available.
For the past year the company has conducted a beta test of its SIM sticker, which is an ultra-thin microchip that affixes to the small card in a mobile device that carries personal information about the user.
Once you apply the sticker to your SIM card it allows you to access discounted roaming rates in 200 countries without having to buy a local SIM card.
The chip in the sticker connects you to local wireless carriers and gives you access to lower roaming rates based on agreements KnowRoaming has negotiated.
The company sold thousands of the stickers last year following a crowdfunding campaign it hosted on its website that raised $35,000. Chief exectuive officer Gregory Gundelfinger said in an interview the point was not to raise money but to gain real-world feedback on how the technology worked and now the company is ready to scale up with a commercial launch.
It is selling the stickers, which connect to unlocked GSM devices on the iOS, Android and Windows Mobile platforms, for $30 and offering a variety of prepaid pricing packages that customers can manage through an app on their devices.
Roaming rates are a contentious issue in Canada; in addition to concerns about the high rates charged when travelling outside of the country, the country's telecom regulator is in the process of examining domestic roaming rates. It recently concluded a hearing and will soon rule on the wholesale rates carriers charge each other when their customers roam outside their home networks.
But Mr. Gundelfinger said Canada is only one of the company's target markets as it looks to sell to English-speakers around the world and expand to non-English markets eventually.
"We're going after a different type of roaming customer, which the carriers are losing out on anyways, and we call these 'silent roamers,'" he said. "These are people that either buy local SIM cards when they arrive abroad, or they use WiFi or they use their phones in limited ways."
"These customers wouldn't be roaming in the first place for reasons such as costs or bad experiences in the past regarding costs."
The startup has raised seed and growth rounds of funding and has 28 employees, Mr. Gundelfinger said.