Vancouver tech start-up looks to lower roaming fees

Welcome back to Mobile Monday here at Techvibes.  We hope you enjoyed our first Mobile Monday edition which highlighted Zoompassrm

Today we are thrilled to be able to present to you our conversation with Emir Aboulhosn, CEO of Roam Mobility

If you’re like me and most Canadians then you are probably using one of the major cell phone carriers to make roaming calls while abroad.  And chances are you are paying up to 10 times more than you need to on international roaming rates. Roam Mobility helps their clients access the cheapest international roaming rates worldwide.

Here is our conversation:

Emir.  Good morning.  In today’s interconnected economy, many professionals not only work at the office but can be found telecommuting from home and traveling to meet clients and suppliers.  Your company, Roam Mobility seems poised to take advantage of this.

Tell us a little about Roam Mobility and the genesis of it’s creation.

As a former marketing executive who traveled extensively to meet with business partners, suppliers and clients, most often the cost of staying in touch with my mobile device was the most expensive aspect of each trip.

During a visit to CeBIT in March of 2009 I came across a new technology for GSM roaming services which would drastically reduce roaming expenses and in some cases eliminate, called Multi IMSI SIM Card Technology. Using roaming agreements with several top tier GSM carriers in the world, consumers could be provided with a SIM card which includes several GSM country profiles that is attached to numbers assigned by the roaming carrier. Combined with specialized GSM network programming, consumer can receive free incoming calls where a GSM partner does not charge a roaming partner for operating on their network and also very low outgoing rates which includes long distance fees.

It could be described as a eureka moment for me, since I realized the benefits to me and hundreds of colleagues or associates I know that deal with the problem of roaming fees.

Within a few months of that trip to Germany I decided to start Roam Mobility.

We designed Roam Mobility to be a reliable, affordable alternative to the high-priced major network providers you use for your home service. I want our customers to not have to think twice about making or receiving calls when you’re away from home and avoid the shock of your phone bill once you get home.

Recently, the Canadian government allowed WIND Mobile to do business in Canada. What are your thoughts on the Canadian wireless industry and where do you think it is headed in 2010 and beyond?

Although I don’t believe the CRTC was wrong in their decision based on their current guidelines, I think it was a good decision by the Canadian government to overturn the decision since WIND is going to provide Canadian consumers with one big advantage, lower prices. Even though people may not flock to WIND, especially since they don’t have a national network yet, there will be pricing pressure therefore Rogers, Telus and Bell will have to lower their prices over time, especially since DAVE is around the corner as well.

Therefore for 2010 Canadians should expect the prices for Voice packages to drop but also Data should change since it follow a pricing model what we are used to for our home and business services. Pay one monthly fee and your connected to the internet, with no limits on usage which is what WIND seems to have done already.

I really believe that Canadian wireless industry could one of the most unique in the world. We have over 30 million people, spread out over approx 3000 kms, with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. So while it may seem attractive, starting a national wireless provider has much higher costs that other parts of the world which a lot of Canadians are not aware of. In fact, Telus and Bell had to team up to build their new HSPDA network since neither could afford to build their own.

Therefore being successful in Canada usually means who can get to market first and pay down their network and infrastructure set up costs the fastest. Based on this, WIND, Dave and even Public have a big hill to climb besides just offering lower prices in key markets.

Rogers, Telus and Bell have deeper pockets and are ready to defend their turf, but we saw this already with Fido who essentially did fail and was bought by Rogers because it was already on their network and had a good brand.

Even if the newcomers fail, Canadians will still win because once you lower prices its very hard to bring them back up.

Many people are looking back at the past decade and are also looking ahead to 2010 and the next decade. Where do you see yourself (professionally) and Roam Mobility (as a company) in 2010?

Starting with myself, I take the most pride in becoming an entrepreneur again for the 3rd time and leading the charge to lower roaming prices in North America. I’m very likely to be supported by having a great team backing me on this adventure. I’m also the CEO of a Vancouver tech start up which we hope will see beta in 2010, therefore without the right people around me, I couldn’t never pull this off. Therefore 2010 could be biggest year in my professional life so far and I can’t wait to take it on.

2010 is really the starting year for Roam Mobility. We’re working hard on building partnerships with retailers and developing new sales channels to bring this service to leisure and business travelers. This is a key element to our success. The feedback has been great but we’ve just started. Our data roaming services will be available in a few weeks so paying $30/MB while outside of Canada is a thing of the past for Canadians. Besides, just voice, SMS and data roaming services, we’ll be adding new travel products and technologies to keep you connected. With Roam Mobility, we’re really on a mission to find new affordable technologies to keep you connected wherever you are in the world because we believe that staying connected while away shouldn’t be a privilege.

And although I know that tech changes so fast, what does the next decade hold for wireless in Canada and more specifically for Roam Mobility?

2010 is going to be biggest year for Canadians probably in the last decade since data became a standard service. 3 new carriers should mean lower prices but also new devices. Between everyone, there is nothing unique. Mobile services, is mobile services, besides customer service is hard to stand out from others since Telus, Bell no also have the iPhone as well. Its the handset where the consumer will get to experience the innovation first hand with faster data networks and more tools to do daily tasks while away from home of the office.

I believe everything we do will have a wireless connection and one company that knows this is Google. Nearly 50% of their resources are being directed to mobile technology and the fact that they are launching their own phone which is being sold unlocked only says a lot because they understand innovation comes when no one is setting the rules.

Besides the long list of cool devices around the corner, its the services that will change our lives because getting home or to the office to use your desktop or even bulky laptop won’t be necessary anymore. It’s in the palm of your hand.

I think that in the next 10 years, the phone will be gone and replaced with mobile device since 20% of its use will be to talk while the other is to be online.

I’m very lucky to part of these changes in the world of wireless but even as a spectator its not to be in awe.