Israeli start-up seeks to end roaming charges

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Posted December 13, 2013
Israeli start-up seeks to end roaming charges
In this photograph made on Thursday Nov. 28, 2013 employees work at CellBuddy office in Tel Aviv, Israel. For international travelers tired of paying steep roaming charges on their cellphones, an Israeli start-up says it has found a solution. Cell Buddy says its app can turn any smartphone into a local handset, allowing travelers to choose from an array of calling and data plans with carriers in dozens of countries. (AP Photo/Dan Balilty)
An Israeli startup is trying to combat a common fear for international travelers: getting socked with hundreds or thousands of dollars in unexpected roaming charges for using cellphones away from home.

Cell Buddy aims to turn any smartphone into a local one. Travelers can choose from an array of calling and data plans with carriers in dozens of countries. As a result, they pay local rates—not the pricey fees charged by their wireless carriers at home.

Here’s how it will work once the service starts next year: Customers use a universal SIM card provided by Cell Buddy. Travelers turn on their phones and launch a Cell Buddy app once they reach their destination. The app finds local carriers and lets travelers compare prices, data packages, download speeds and other factors. Travelers are assigned a local phone number and can continue to use their regular phone number back home, at regular prices, using the same SIM card.

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