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Check out Red Pocket Mobile for cheap calls to Asia

I just got back from the Prepaid Press Expo 2009, and was fortunate enough to moderate a few discussion panels. Among the more interesting was a presentation by Joshua Gordon of Red Pocket Mobile. We don’t have a review of his service up yet, but after watching his presentation and seeing what his company is all about, you very well may see it in the left sidebar soon enough. It’s a niche MVNO, operating on the AT&T network. The rates might seem a bit above average, but the beauty of Red Pocket is that it provides calling with no long distance charges to destinations like China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Taiwan. This makes it an attractive choice for people living in the US who have family and friends in these areas. It’s also an example of an MVNO that is staying ahead of the curve and not falling victim to the mass extinction.

Red Pocket is not for everyone, and it’s not designed to be. Their cheapest refill, $10, provides only 67 minutes, meaning a rate of 15 cents per minute. In fact, you can’t get a 10 cents per minute rate unless you buy a $100 refill. That might seem like a lot, but when you factor in the free long distance to international destinations, it all the sudden becomes a bit more attractive.

You might not have seen Red Pocket Mobile in retail stores around you. That’s because they’re not going with a general marketing plan. Instead they’re focusing the product on their particular niche. In this case it’s in Chinatowns across the US. This focus enables them to keep marketing costs relatively low. Since they don’t have to reach everyone, they can spend less money to reach only those who will benefit from Red Pocket’s service.

As Paris Holt of TelSpace noted in his presentation, we could be seeing an uptick in MVNO usage. But it won’t be the general service MVNOs. It will be these niche services which serve a particular sliver of the market. MVNOs don’t scale well, at least the ones we’re most familiar with, so keeping this intense focus will be the way they reach their target customers. It will be interesting to see how MVNOs take to this tack in the coming years.