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Dutch startup turns to crowdsourcing for MVNO project

Crowdfone is to be crowdfunded

A Dutch startup has turned to crowdsourcing to raise the €200,000 it requires to launch as an MVNO in the country.

CrowdFone has given itself just 32 days to source the cash via Indiegogo, with an eye on launching in the Netherlands in the summer. The company is certainly going after novelty and disruption, promising that subscribers will be able to pay for the service via Bitcoin as well as Paypal and iDeal. Moreover, the company is promising to treat prepaid as a cash bank account: leaving your balance open indefinitely; paying interest on unused cash; and allowing credit to be transferred out of the system into a bank account.

The company will not offer bundles or distinguish between postpaid and prepaid users. Everyone gets the same rates and postpaid users can apply for a credit limit, while prepay users top up their balance as normal. Each user will have manual control over spend limits for voice, SMS and data and the company plans to make use of open forums like GiffGaff in the UK to reduce support overheads.

If it reaches its target, CrowdFone will develop an open source app and an open API for users and developers and will launch as an MVNO on a Dutch LTE network, with automatic fallback to 3G and 2G where necessary.

If funding goes beyond target, the company plans to roll out a small cell overlay network as well as allow users to connect Asterisk and other PBXes to the system.

“The target group is the technically oriented customer who will be offered many more technical options than is common in mobile telecom,” said CrowdFone founder Paul Coerkamp: “It’s time for a mobile operator with a different approach to the telecom industry: Open communication, transparent tariffs, and we’ll actively include the community to influence our priorities and contribute to innovation on our network. There are so many technical possibilities that are currently underused, we call on everyone to help us to change this.”

Coerkamp comes from the oil industry, having worked a large part of his career at Shell. However he also project managed the deployment of the Lebara MVNO in Saudi Arabia. Co-founder Hans Smeets also worked on the Lebara project as well as for small cell and private GSM specialist Radio Access and bankrupted Dutch MVNO 6GMobile, while Doug Lockyer is a branding expert who has worked at Visa, Verizon and Sprint.

The company had raised just shy of €3,000 as of Thursday, two days into its fundraiser.


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