Bid to end global roaming shock

Everyone has heard a horror story.

And tales of horrifically inflated international data roaming rates and call charges - fees that make the hourly rates of a lawyer appear a steal - are now as commonplace as Bali belly.

It has led two Perth entrepreneurs - with the help of seed capital from former Australian cricketer Simon Katich and technology entrepreneur Zhenya Tsvetnenko - to position themselves as the solution.

In an example of yet another tech play using the shell of a struggling Perth-based exploration play - in this case Subiaco-based Skywards, which only jumped into exploration last June - Bert Mondello and Keaton Wallace are attempting to list ZipTel through a $3 million raising.

The telco company, formerly known as AussieSim, has a multi-pronged plan to wedge into the space currently ignored by the two big telcos, Optus and Telstra.

The plan includes the AussieSim product, a pre-paid travel sim card, and ZipT, a voice over internet protocol mobile app (similar to Viber or WhatsApp) enabling the customer to SMS and call from their phone at low rates. There will also be a call forwarding platform. And the duo has ambitious plans to go global.

"We want to have one million clients within six months," Mr Wallace said.

Although some analysts may question whether that number is realistic considering the big three's dominance, the international roaming element of the industry is fair game.

Vodafone, the poor cousin of the three, has made a play into the arena, offering capped $5-a-day international roaming fees for its customers.

Telstra and Optus are yet to react, with Telstra going the other way and recently increasing global roaming fees by as much as 500 per cent.

However, if Optus or Telstra did offer international roaming plans, it would have the potential to knock out ZipTel in one swoop.

Mr Wallace said he believed the status quo would remain.

"If I were Optus or Telstra - making hundreds of millions off international roaming and data - I wouldn't want to stop it in a hurry," Mr Wallace said.

After stitching up a deal with Zhenya Tsvetnenko's Mpire Network on Friday, ZipTel is today expected to announce a transaction with Malaysian-based AppPharms, which has about 200,000 users.

The West Australian

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