Mobile Internet telephony start-up Truphone has revealed a funding round of £12.5 million ($24.5m). The round is said to be the European technology sector’s largest Series A venture funding of 2006.
It was led by Wellington Partners (a leading pan-European VC), with Independent News & Media (a global media group) and Burda Digital Ventures (a global media group) joining existing investors Eden Ventures and business angels.
In 2006 Truphone introduced internet telephony to mass market mobile phones, enabling users to make free calls from their handsets to other Truphone users and low internet-rate calls to any telephone worldwide. In late 2006 this was extended to free phone calls to a range of VoIP services.
The new funding will provide Truphone with resources to execute its vision of fundamentally changing the economics of mobile communications and providing revolutionary new services to mobiles, increasing the base of handsets it supports and launching the Truphone service across the globe. This will create a worldwide Mobile Internet Network Operator providing a critical mass of customers with a free/low-cost alternative to conventional cellular network service providers.
“Truphone is a Mobile Internet Network Operator – we are radically changing the economics of the market and providing new internet-enabled services to customers’ handsets,” said ceo James Tagg. “By securing this investment, we have passed a significant milestone in realising our vision.”
Truphone’s true mobile VoIP service enables calls to be made between mobile devices entirely free of charge. Calls are carried via Wi-Fi over the Internet. The call need never enter a regular phone network, fixed or mobile, meaning there are no operator charges payable either to make or receive such a call.
As a result, using a Truphone-enabled handset to make an international call from a Wi-Fi hotspot abroad cuts out the usual, expensive, roaming charges, threatening one of the major sources of revenue for the existing cellular network operators.
In addition to lowering call costs, Truphone uses Wi-Fi to provide complementary pseudo-cellular coverage in blindspots - 26% of people in the major European countries have poor/no cellular reception at home.