Cellhire: A short-term proposition

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Cellhire, established in 1987, has been growing its business gradually over the last 22 years. Now, with offices in the United States, Paris, Tokyo, Beijing and Munich, it has become more than a bit-part player.

Offering a fleet of 55,000 SIMs and devices through 100 network agreements in 40 countries, Cellhire aims to provide cost savings to businesses on regular roaming rates, as well as a local managed service.

Working as a service provider for O2 and Vodafone in the UK, and Orange in France, the company has a projected turnover of £19 million this year. According to Cellhire UK managing director Matt Bennett, it is the only company to be a Centre of Excellence partner with O2 for both data and enterprise.

Data products now make up 35-40 per cent of the company’s revenue, after a considerable rise in recent years. But with  European Commisioner Viviane Reding’s latest assault on roaming charges with new legislation and price caps, its revenue is at risk as the cost savings it offers customers are eroded.

“Any time the roaming rates come down it’s not great news for us,” says Bennett. “But because we are not competing on price alone our managed service is still attractive. The downward pressure on roaming charges continues. But our solutions still enable customers travelling abroad to save money on outbound calls, and incoming call traffic is generally free of charge.

“We’re also seeing an increase in rental for destinations outside the EU such as Dubai. But advance orders for large European events, such as the Cannes Film Festival, are still extremely healthy. Renting from Cellhire will still offer additional savings over and above any legislatively enforced reductions in the marketplace.”

Bennett points out the publicity around Reding’s campaign on roaming rates, as well as the recession itself, has made more companies more aware of costs such as roaming charges, which they previously might have shrugged off.

Full article in Mobile News issue 441 (June 15, 2009).

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