Zonga is a new Finnish startup committed to make the Internet experience easier, better, and cheaper for all the globetrotters around the world by providing a mobile Wi-Fi rental service. The company was founded by Internet enthusiasts feeling the frustration of getting and staying online while traveling. While mobile services and Wi-Fi hotspots are getting more and more common, every business traveler knows what pain it is to try to get connected while on the go. Many mobile phones can create a Wi-Fi hotspot over 3G, but while traveling abroad mobile data roaming is usually outrageously expensive and thus not feasible. And Wi-Fi never seem to be conveniently located nor priced.
It seemed to the founders of Zonga that nobody is really well catering the big customer segment of international business travellers who are driven by busy schedules, mobility, cost awareness, and search for the peace of mind. Thus they wanted to offer ‘All You Can Internet’ with straightforward grab-and-go experience, enjoying Internet anywhere and anytime, with no worries about excessive charges.
Zonga’s Mobile Wi-Fi rental service has now launched in Finland, available for foreign travelers at the Helsinki airport and selected downtown hotels. The service is based on a physical gadget, which acts as a 3G Wi-Fi hotspot. It requires no installation, and the device has its own battery, so no need for wires either. The package includes all you can eat data plan and simple daily pricing of 9 EUR (/11 USD), with no hidden costs. What is more, the device accepts up to five connections, so you can use the same connection with your mobile phone, laptop, iPad, and whatnot – something which typically isn’t possible with public paid hotspots. Before boarding the return flight, the traveler just needs to drop the device off at any of the various locations at the airport (service point, bars, cafes) – or already at the hotel.
Zonga’s target is to expand to main international business travel airports within the year 2011. The company mentions it is currently negotiating with multiple international airports and business partners, and we can expect new expansions to be announced shortly. Zonga is also working closely with their initial hotel partner International Restel Hotels, to extend the offering to various hotels of the target cities as well. Zonga was founded in October 2009, and it is currently fully owned by the operative management.
Considering how frustrating and time consuming it often is to try to hunt an internet connection when traveling abroad on business, Zonga’s approach is definitely welcome, and I will happily grab a device once I will see one available at a foreign airport. Of course, a downside of Zonga’s technology is the use of mobile network, due to which the connection speed will vary a lot depending on the location. However, at least in urban areas 3G’s 1 megabit/sec is likely just fine for the majority of typical use cases. Zonga’s success will depend primarily on the effectiveness of the business execution, getting the distribution set up quickly and the marketing message through to travelers.