The Silent Circle service offers customers end-to-end encryption of their calls

Encrypted calling service extended to 79 countries

Customers of a surveillance-dodging mobile calling service can now purchase a fixed rate calling plan that allows them to make encrypted calls across 79 countries, according to the firm.

Silent Circle, offers end-to-end encrypted phone, text and video chat services to its subscribers through servers which are based in Canada and Switzerland that can automatically delete records of all calls, texts, messages or documents on both senders' and receivers' devices.

Today the Geneva-based firm announced it was launching a secure, fixed-rate calling plan that works on Apple iOS and Android smartphones and, eventually, on Windows Mobile systems, which can reach 79 countries, including China, Russia, most of Europe and the Americas, though large parts of the Middle East and Africa are not covered.

The service marks a sophisticated challenge not just to traditional phone carriers – who still by and large charge steep roaming fees to international travellers when calling from outside their home market – but also to newer, voice over Internet services that have sprung up over the past decade.

It is designed to appeal to anyone working with sensitive information, such as executives, lawyers, journalists or activists, in the face of growing criminal, state-sponsored and corporate espionage.

The new calling plan starts at $12.95 (£7.57) a month for 100 minutes of outbound calls and runs up to $39.95 for 1,000 minutes of calling, comparable to premium price plans offered by Internet communications services such as Microsoft's Skype and Rakuten's Viber but with much higher levels of security. Users will still need a data plan from a regular provider to run the Silent Circle application.

Unlimited calls, texts, video chat and file transfer to other Silent Circle customers are included in the package, with the allowance of minutes going towards calls to landline phones in the 79 countries covered and the 42 countries where mobile phone users are reachable. Calls to non-subscribers are not encrypted end-to-end but will be encrypted from the subscribers phone to the Silent Circle servers, before it is then sent out to public phone networks.

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