HELSINKI Nov 14 Finnish startup Alekstra will
launch this month in the United States its iPhone application,
which picks the best call-plan based on consumers' billing
history, and could dent profitability of iPhone users for the
It has tried the Ratemizer app in Finland since last month,
with a few thousand users finding that they overpaying on
average by 35 percent as they usually underestimate call volume
and overestimate texting volume.
"Many consumers calibrate their mobile plans for their
median monthly voice minute volume. However, they tend to have
2-3 peak months with far higher volume - and this typically
leads to stiff overage fees," said Alekstra's founder Toni
Texting volume has declined on average by 14 percent over
last 10 months as the amount of iPhones has increased in the
homeland of Nokia, former smartphone market leader,
and traffic is redirected to Apple's own iMessage
"One surprise to us has been how much certain consumers
overestimate their SMS and mobile data usage," said Toikka,
adding many consumers were likely increasingly using local WiFi
networks, which has left them with outsized data plans.
Consumers have to log in to their carrier portal through the
app, which then analyzes the last 12 months billing data and
picks the best among hundreds of possible mobile plans.
In Finland, most consumers can reach more than 15 percent
savings by changing plans within their current carrier, even
though the cheapest plan is usually with a rival operator.
Alekstra has said it plans to step up its challenge to
traditional operators in 2014 by launching a mobile virtual
network business, offering calling services without roaming fees
in key markets around the globe.
Before its launch, it aims to raise some tens of millions of
euros from venture capital firms.
As a virtual operator, it will rent airtime from existing
networks, but the investment needed is a fraction of what global
incumbents like Vodafone or Telefonica have
invested in building out networks from scratch.