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As any seasoned traveler will know, international roaming rates for calls, data and SMS can be expensive. What if you could stay connected globally without carrier roaming charges? That's what Joseph Ged, former CEO of Ooredoo Algeria and board member of Ooredoo Tunisia, set out to accomplish. Speaking to Telecom Review, Ged talked up his new mobile service Wonet which allows you to make and receive free and cost-effective calls worldwide by using a "virtual number".

What is the Wonet app and what inspired you to develop it?
We have all witnessed, lived and contributed to the development of the mobile telecommunications industry during the last 30 years from the old analog technology AMPS to the latest 4G and now 5G evolution. Despite all this great technology and industry evolution, a series of limitations remained unchanged: one number on a device, one carrier, one invoice, one network, one country, etc.

Now is the time to break all these barriers and move from the centralized legacy network carriers limited to a specific country with an operator-centric service, to an internet age all-IP worldwide user-centric service with full digital mobile experience referred to as IMO (internet age mobile operator) or for a more conventional terminology, iMVNO (intelligent mobile virtual network operator).

Wonet is the leading IMO or iMVNO that has bridged the legacy mobile network carriers licensed per country to new all-IP or internet mobile communications allowing customers to stay connected anywhere in the world free of all network carrier barriers (SIM, phone numbers, geography, limited validity, billing and recharges limitations). Wonet provides carrier grade service quality and the best Internet calling quality and works over data connection (3G, 4G, WiFi, etc.).

The Wonet app allows you to make and receive calls using a virtual number. Can you explain this?
Wonet offers multiple numbers on the same device that can be used for both on-net and off-net voice calls and SMS free of roaming charges anywhere in the world. Customers can be reached at any of their Wonet numbers free of charge wherever they are in the world and they can call out from Wonet by selecting any of their numbers (original or Wonet numbers) to be used as the CLID for extremely low international tariffs for off-net calls/SMS and completely free for on-net calls/SMS.

Wonet customers don't have to pay for multiple lines or accounts. Business users can give their employees two lines for personal and business and for any reasons of change or cancelation of the business line the user can keep their account with the personal line with no need to cancel the membership with Wonet. Adding and removing lines is done online and instantly from any device where the Wonet app is available.

The Wonet mobile app is free to download from the App Store or Play Store with a free two-week subscription for first time users.

Why are virtual numbers a cost-effective solution for people who travel?
A SIM-free number (virtual number) gives flexibility for travelers to not purchase a SIM card and have to go through the administrative process to buy it. With a simple click Wonet gives you the ability to buy a full fledge mobile virtual number (without a need for a physical SIM card).

Frequent flyers face the nightmare of high roaming charges for calls and data. They need the convenience to be always connected anywhere without the hassle of swapping SIMs, buying local vouchers, or being limited to local credit cards. Wonet removes all these barriers that block users from being always connected at zero roaming charges with low international rates for calls, SMS and data.

How is Wonet different from other VoIP apps? Calls without SIM cards?
Wonet provides carrier grade service quality and the best internet calling quality and works over data connection (3G, 4G, WiFi), not like the VoIP providers. Wonet services require internet connectivity via 3G, 4G or WiFi connections. Wonet number and voice and SMS services do not require any SIM card. Should the user decide to use Wonet data services then a data SIM will be required and provided in more than 100 countries worldwide.

How does Wonet support zero roaming for data?
In addition to voice services, Wonet offers data services at local data rates free of all excessive data roaming fees in more than 100 countries worldwide. The data services provided via a Wonet Data SIM can be purchased online at the mobile app or at www.wonet.com and delivered to the user's address anywhere.

Wonet offers data services based on 3G/4G services similar to your current carriers' roaming services excluding the high excessive data roaming fees. With both voice and data, Wonet fulfills all the communications needs for heavy travelers at zero roaming rates.

No fixed monthly subscription is needed. Data bundles are purchased based on the user's need for specific geographic areas such as: Europe, Middle East, USA, Africa and Asia-Pacific, as well as some specific countries: France, UK, Italy, Spain, Germany, USA and China, giving users the full flexibility to tailor their purchases to their needs and thus providing highly cost-effective service at local data rates excluding any excessive roaming charges.

What kind of people will benefit from the Wonet app?
Everyone could benefit from the Wonet app, especially frequent travelers as it gives them freedom to receive free calls and make calls at low cost effective rates anywhere in the world. Wonet also provides local data rates and lets users save big on roaming charges. In summary, zero roaming fees for voice and Internet services, thus staying connected anytime, anywhere.

How do you think telecom operators will react to this concept?
Wonet is an IMO or iMVNO where the former acronym clearly removes the virtual network concept as Wonet operates in an open internet wide network focusing on its user's needs by offering full digital smart communications while breaking all the carriers' barriers at zero roaming charges. It is clear that IMOs or iMVNOs are more agile than legacy network carriers and all of this happens in a deregulated open competitive market that benefits first and foremost the user.

What are your plans for the future of the Wonet app?
Wonet has already released its voice services and will be launching soon its data services. In the near future, we will be introducing groundbreaking services allowing Wonet to be a highly competitive player in the world market.