A mobile must-have for tourists
Frequent flyers wanting to cyber surf from their mobile phone when abroad can now do so at a fraction of the cost thanks to Noam Lando's company.
Webbing provides people with a small modem for their mobile/iPad/iPhone that they can use to access wireless internet data at cheaper rates than those offered by mobile phone companies.
The Israeli start up has negotiated prices for data connections with more than 35 of the world's largest mobile phone networks in 55 countries including Vodafone and 02 in the UK.
Mr Lando, 31, explains: "Before going abroad you rent a Webbing router device, aka a Webbing Spot, from our website. The device is then sent to you complete with a data SIM card specific to the country you are visiting. This can then be connected to either your mobile phone, smart phone, iPad or laptop when abroad. When you return from your trip, the Webbing Spot is picked up from you. The device basically acts as a WiFi point enabling the user to bypass roaming charges."
The average Webbing cost for Israelis abroad is about €11 (£9.50) per day for unlimited access, a saving of between 80 and 90 per cent compared to standard mobile phone rates of around €100 (£87). Webbing's savings are similarly as cheap for UK travellers to Israel. "Our pricing is based on a daily rate of €11 with unlimited data plan. Vodafone UK charges about £25 per every 100 Megabytes (MB) where the actual average usage per day is around 200 MB - so altogether you would pay around €60 per day to Vodafone UK." What's more, the company has teamed up with Israeli airline El Al to offer deals for passengers flying to Israel.
Currently the firm's services only apply to Israelis abroad and tourists visiting Israel but the company is about to expand catering for other international travellers, specifically those from the UK and US where the company plans to set up shop.
"We cannot manage the business remotely."
What are the other options for consumers and business people wanting to access the internet abroad? Use a national WiFi network, find a coffee shop with free access or pay for a connection at a hotel. But Mr Lando points out that these do not give you the freedom to connect anywhere, anytime.
Launched two years ago by Mr Lando and his business partner Yaniv Elron, the company has since been bought by 013 Netvision, Israel's oldest-established internet service provider, which has a 51 per cent stake. 013 Netvision was recently bought by Cellcom. Both companies are controlled by Nochi Dankner's IDB Group, Israel's largest holding company with total assets of over $30 billion. Mr Lando remains a principal shareholder of Webbing and is chief executive.
The firm has grown quickly with around 10,000 customers but Mr Lando is not surprised. The Herzliya-based entrepreneur says he always knew the demand was there.
He came up with the concept while working for software companies. "I was travelling at least twice a month, mainly for work, and accessing the internet was so expensive. I saw a gap between the demand for internet access and the high rates that phone companies where charging.
"I thought the company would do well as there was such a high demand for cheaper rates and was convinced that the market would adopt the concept. We didn't need to educate people - the need was already there. It was just a matter of marketing and pricing it correctly."