On your next flight abroad, don’t forget your passport, your tickets and of course your private WiFi. The Israeli firm Webbing has begun to market what it describes as an “global cellular router,” which is simply a portable WiFi box, about the size of a cellphone, which is always operative and can serve up to 10 WiFi-based devices, including smartphones, tablet computers and laptops.
Webbing Spot, the company’s main product, is a small box that contains 8 SIM cards that provide mobile access to the Internet anytime and anywhere, as CEO Noam Landau explains: “We have long been a company that provides international SIM service for mobile surfing, but we saw that consumers, especially business customers, have a clear need to have one device that can provide support anywhere in the world, without any need to change the SIM when you travel between countries.
"The router contains eight SIM cards and we have a system that can manage that and choose the correct SIM, depending on the country. For that purpose, we have signed on with a number of global communications service providers, one from North America, one from South America and one from Europe. As of now we provide support in 130 countries.”
And the price? For a short trip, the company offers a flat fee option of 40 shekels ($11.50) per day for a 300-megabyte data package per day, or for a long trip a package of 200 shekels per month with a surfing volume of 2 gigabytes. It should be noted that at least on the Israeli market, it’s not necessarily the cheapest solution. Partner, the cellular provider that does business in Israel as Orange, now offers a Web package for travelers at 150 shekels a month that includes 1 gigabyte, which is enough for most users.
For his part, Landau’s responds: “Customers no longer make do with a solution only for their mobile device. They’re demanding an overall solution for additional devices such as tablets and laptops. About 70% of customers travel with more than one device. The limited packages from the cellular companies don’t provide a suitable solution, and the need for service is on the increase.”
Israelis can pick up Webbing’s services at Ben-Gurion International Airport on their way overseas, and the company is also active internationally. “We’ve signed agreements with five operators worldwide and at the moment we’re selling the product in Canada, South Africa, Australia, China the United States,” Landau says.
It should be noted that the minuscule router provides WiFi coverage but doesn’t directly deal with phone service abroad. Of course, within the limits of the package that the customer opts for, travelers can communicate via the Internet on services such as Skype, Viber and the WhatsApp texting service.
Webbing was established in 2009 and has undergone several transformations since. Its original name was Telroam, which was changed to Webbing in 2010. A 51% controlling stake in the firm was acquired by 013 Netvision, the Internet and international long-distance firm. Netvision was later acquired in turn by Cellcom, and with the increased competition in the cellular market, but Cellcom began to shed operations outside of its core business. Webbing’s founder bought Cellcom out.
The investors are six partners in Pitango Venture Capital. Webbing is turning a profit and has 20 employees.