Technology companies are looking hard at the promising portable Wi-Fi services market to meet the high-speed Internet demands of increasing numbers of Chinese heading outside the mainland and overseas.
The companies hope to expand their Wi-Fi business overseas to allow frequent travelers to enjoy local mobile data services cheaply.
Accessing mobile Internet services at a reasonable cost is a big headache for visitors.
"I knew it was expensive, but I had no choice," Wang, 30, said. "I didn't want to have a local phone number just for a five-day trip."
A survey by Sina.com, a leading Web portal in
Chinese companies are beginning to offer portable Wi-Fi services to help outbound tourists with their daily fees - keeping these to less than
Liu said: "I noticed this trend emerging five years ago. Many travelers told me their biggest headache was the cost of roaming services. If they wanted to use a local service, they needed to get a local phone number or even a new phone. For tourists, this is a waste of money."
Liu's team worked on this for five years, found a service model to lower the cost and provided it to travel agencies and outbound tourists. Skyroam covers 45 countries and the number is expected to rise to more than 100 in the coming year.
Wang said this service is highly attractive, especially for frequent business travelers.
"Some of them have to travel to different countries in the same month. It is a big headache to have too many local phone numbers, but a service like this has no border limits."
Skyroam and other companies provide a service for Chinese tourists, but are thinking of expanding their business to overseas clients.
"The presence of three State-owned mobile communication giants on the mainland makes it difficult for companies to partner and negotiate good wholesale deals," Yan said.
"The overseas market consists of a diverse mix of operators with different standards. This will require companies to spend a considerable amount of their resources to liaise with all operators in different markets.
"Being strictly regulated, telecommunications is a politically sensitive industry and it is never easy to enter any market.
"It is also hard to find a single service that fits all markets, so I think the new roaming service will require a considerable amount of service localization to make it successful in other countries. "
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