As people are getting increasingly connected, there is a certain expectation to be constantly online, even while travelling. However, roaming charges are typically exorbitant, to the point the consumer usually faces what is known as “bill shock” when he or she returns home.
Enter Yourwifi, a Singapore-based rental provider of mobile wireless routers, which announced its launch in the city-state and strategic partnership with US-based counterpart XCom Global today. Founded by CEO Noritaka Kobayashi, previously the Vice President of GREE Singapore, the service is targeted at outbound travellers.
According to data from Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, Singapore residents made a total of 8.05 million trips out of the country via sea and air in 2012 and about 4.2 million trips from May 2013 to October 2013.
Kobayashi told e27, “It’s not necessary to go to a hotspot such as a hotel or restaurant. The demand for access abroad is increasing because everybody, as you know, wants to hold a smartphone and use data connection more than before.”
He added that using mobile telco data roaming “could cost … a bomb” and “comes with multiple hassles and narrow coverage area”. The process of using a local SIM card is also thought of as troublesome.
The service provides WiFi coverage in more than 170 countries, and will be priced according to the travel destination. It will have a coverage area of 10 metres and can connect upto five devices. While customers can only start collecting their routers from January 22, they may start pre-ordering today.
“We deliver, or customers can also come to our office,” said Kobayashi, “You can rent a device on the website and after the trip, return it.” He also added that customers can bring the device back to Yourwifi’s office or choose to deliver it via courier service Ta-Q-Bin.
In addition to targeting the general public who is looking to avoid data charges while overseas, small and medium businesses are likely to take advantage of such a service.
Yourwifi, which is currently self-funded, also faces competition from Telecom Square, a provider of similar services.