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What Purchasing Mobile Connectivity Is Like for Most People

OXIO wants to make mobile data cheaper for everyone. Furthermore, we want anyone in the world to be able to get connected at anytime. In Mexico for example, and just like in Columbia, Indonesia or most nations in the world, mobile internet is still far too expensive for the majority of the people. To better illustrate our point, we have collected the experience of Emmanuel, a Colombian national who regularly has to go to a store to “top up”. We hope that a real world experience such as his helps illustrate why OXIO was created.

Emmanuel owns a mid-range Android smartphone. Like a lot of people in Colombia, this is his only Internet device. Scavenging Wi-Fi provides him with most of his data but he will get on wireless (3G, 4G) for essentials like WhatsApp, Facebook and Maps. He uses three Communication Service Providers: Movistar which has service near his home, Claro for general reliability, and Tigo for when he visits his mother. A few times a week, he buys a 20 MB package which will last a day. He can sometimes afford larger packages which are more expensive but constitute a better deal. In order to “top up”, he first needs to acquire airtime. He checks the ongoing price at the local corner store and sees 20 MB for 850 pesos. Claro only accepts a minimum of 1,000 pesos deposit so, after waiting in line, he hands over 1,200 pesos. The clerk asks for his phone number and enters complicated Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) commands on his terminal. Typos are easy when entering these commands, yet such a mistake would be irreversible.

Emmanuel is now credited with 1,020 pesos on his Claro account as the processor keeps a 15% commission. His phone buzzes: he’s just received an SMS indicating airtime is available. Emmanuel dials #703* to convert airtime to the 20 MB mobile data he set his eyes on. The package gets activated immediately. Sometimes he delays activation to provide for the next day’s commute. Emmanuel now makes sure Claro is set as his primary SIM, and receives a “package ready” confirmation. When the package is depleted, his plan will automatically switch to PAYGO: five times the rate. But for now, as if an imaginary wireless data spigot had opened, numerous message notifications start popping up on Emmanuel’s screen. He has rejoined the worldwide social sphere.

OXIO is working on a mobile internet marketplace and a companion consumer app which will radically change this paradigm. Mobile connectivity should be as easy to obtain as plugging in your phone to recharge. And everyone should be able to afford it. This is what our team works on everyday.

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