Ready SIM offers unique spin on MVNO market, hopes to sell 300K SIMs in 2013

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Ready SIM, a T-Mobile USA MVNO that is part of Roam Mobility, is looking to take a different path than most MVNOs by focusing less on unlimited prepaid service and more on its unique mobile offering. Ready SIM offers customers self-activating SIM cards with preloaded rate plans on them, and the company expects to sell 300,000 SIMs by the end of the year.

Instead of selling phones, locked or unlocked, Ready SIM provides a self-activating SIM cards that delivers full service within minutes of purchase, the company said. The SIM cards provide three, seven, 14 or 30 days of unlimited nationwide talk, text and data (customers can also buy SIM cards that offer just unlimited voice and texting).The prices for the SIM cards range from $15 for a three-day talk and text plan to $55 for a 30-day SIM with unlimited voice, texting, 2 GB of data and data tethering support.

Emir Aboulhosn, senior vice president of business development for Ready SIM parent Roam Mobility, told FierceWireless that the company will be in 3,000 retail or dealer locations by the end of the first quarter and expects to be in 5,000 by the end of the year. Since December the company has sold 100,000 SIM cards, and expects to sell more than 300,000 by the end of 2013. Aboulhosn said Ready SIM has "tried to build a product that we can sell anywhere, anytime by anyone."

Since customers can activate the service anonymously with no registration needed, and since the SIM cards are so disposable, Aboulhosn said the company does not use churn as a metric to measure its success. Instead, it relies on how many SIM cards are activated and how many retail locations it has offering its products. Aboulhosn hastened to note that despite the anonymous nature of the product, Ready SIM is fully compliant with all federal and state laws.

Aboulhosn said there are a number of major use cases for Ready SIM. One is for companies that have temporary workers and need to offer them mobile service. Another is for people using dating sites if they do not want to give out their real number. A major market though is travelers, especially for people who are in the United States for only a week or two. "For Europeans, buying a local SIM is a no-brainer for them," he said. "The travel marker for us has been strong on the retail side, especially in New York [City]."

Part of what makes Ready SIM unique is its activation process. The process is half software based and half based on the wireless network, Aboulhosn said. Ready SIM built a java-based program that sits on the SIM card and starts the activation process the minute a customer gets a signal. Once that starts the network takes over and the activation is completed in three to five minutes. Customers get a local number by putting in a ZIP code.

Aboulhosn said Ready SIM is not focused on the unlimited prepaid market, in part because so many MVNOs are already trying to replicate that model and in part because competing with the larger carriers is not a smart business move. "Anytime you go up against the motherships [Tier 1 carriers] you are going to lose," he said. "The opportunity of the MVNO is to find the market carriers aren't focused on."

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