Wireless Traveler said there was a record number of WiFi
calls made via its eponymous app on March 22, the day of the terrorist attacks
in Brussels. Mobile networks were overloaded following the explosions.
Wireless Traveler CEO Ian Benson said WiFi calls hit
“unprecedented levels” on Tuesday, with 85,000 calls emanating from the
European Union via the Wireless Traveler app. Benson also said there was a 240%
increase in app downloads that day.
“Apart from the record number of calls, we were very
pleased to see that the WT app performance even during exceptional peak usage
remained extremely robust,” he said, attributing that to the app’s low data
consumption of about 320 kilobytes per minute.
The app offers international calling for as low as 2
cents per minute over WiFi. The voice-over-Internet-protocol service is
available wherever there is WiFi. Rates vary by country. Calling another person
who has the app is free.
On Tuesday, Alexander De Croo, deputy prime minister of
Belgium, took to Twitter to urge Belgians to communicate using nontraditional
services: “IMPORTANT: Brussels mobile networks are getting saturated. Please
contact through data messages: Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter. Avoid calls,” he
wrote. Throughout the day he tweeted several times asking those in Brussels to
avoid mobile calls as a form of communication.
In addition to its app, Wireless Traveler offers SIM
cards and pocket WiFi hotspots to travelers. The company offers a white-label
version of its app, as well, working with agencies and tour operators to create
branded apps with the same calling technology. It has preferred-supplier
relationships with several consortia.