UROS have only been in operation for two years but they already have coverage over much of the world when it comes to their new offering the Goodspeed mobile data device. It’s ideal for frequent flyers and it doesn’t cost the earth. Tommi Uhari, CEO, talked to Comms Business about their entrance into the UK market and they think they have solved the mobile data problem when travelling abroad.
Comms Business Magazine (CBM): Hi Tommi, so who exactly is this product aimed at?
Tommi Uhari (TU): We are really focused on people who travel a lot and want to do productive work when they travel. Productive work when travelling is done either with a laptop or a tablet. With a smartphone you can stay connected but to really do some productive work you need a device with a bigger screen and these type of devices consume lots of data. Our idea is to go for a very large amount of data per day of travel for a low price. We have a plan which starts at £5/ day for data which works in Europe, Russia and China. We are going global with this and we are adding countries every month. Our key area we are working on currently is North America.
The English speaking world is critical for business travellers and so that is why we are concentrating there. We are going for global coverage but we are going via each operator or by country. Some operators can sign up ten countries at once but some can only do it country by country. I’m confident by this year we will have most of the northern hemisphere on board. We are also working hard in parts of Asia.
CBM: How much data are you offering per day?
TU: The idea is that for the price of a cup of coffee you can get a day’s worth of data. With this method you only have to pay for the days you use. According to a recent Cisco survey the average data consumption of a user today is 250mbs. Our data allowance is either 1Gb or 500mbs so it should be plenty for a typical user and in many instances you will be able to share your connection and data with a colleague.
CBM: With your monthly subscription it sounds like you need to do a lot of travelling to make this worthwhile?
TU: For customers that have around four trips a year, which totals around 20 days away, this is the cheapest way to stay connected. In our model you only pay for the days that you use. If you think about it, for 100 euros a year you have the option to by 1Gb of data per day when abroad. You don’t need to plan anything in advance you just have to have the device in your bag.
When you want to get things done a bigger screen is better, perhaps with a keyboard. We are working with mobile operators and they mostly see it as a great compliment to what they are trying to do with smartphone data already. The mobile operators are really good at doing small amounts of data consumption. So if you just wanted to check a train timetable or something you could do that on your phone as normal but if you really want to sit down and get some work done that’s when you take out Goodspeed and connect it.
CBM: There is so much free Wifi available today why would someone want to pay to use this service?
TU: When the Wifi is free there are security risks. You just never know what you might be doing, or how might be watching, if you connect to open internet. Our device only connects to the operator’s network which means it is as secure as it gets.
Also Wifi varies from country to country and coffee shop to coffee shop as to whether it actually works and if it is actually free. I have bought dozens of unnecessary cappuccino’s in my lifetime just to get wifi but much of the free wifi out there is just unsatisfactory in terms of quality, especially for business users.
CBM: So what challenges are you facing lunching this product and how are you billing customers?
TU: The biggest change we are fighting is that people are now so used to travelling without data. When they then try it they realise the difference. If you can be as productive when out of the office as you are at your desk then it really is a major plus. When you really experience the productivity gains when you travel abroad it changes you outlook when travelling and needing to get work done.
We have an automatic billing system which automatically bills your credit card when you connect and all of your devices will recognise the network after you have connected once so you don’t have to mess about with passwords and such every time you want to get connected. We currently have a fair use limit which will slow your connection down once you get near your limit, but there isn’t a fee if you go over your allowance.
CBM: So what are your plans for the UK?
TU: At the moment we are trying to find the best partners to work with in the UK where we can create a win win for everyone so we can grow. We are having discussions already but we are open to discussions from others also. In other countries we are working with the big distributors and mobile network operators because we can provide data at a cost level they can’t achieve.
Every country is different and you always need to find the right way of working. That is why we roll out mostly country by country. We are targeting over one hundred thousand users by the middle of next year and we see the UK as being a major part of that.
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