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Reapfield Technology grows its Flexiroam baby big
Reapfield Technology Sdn. Bhd, a homegrown VoiceoverInternet Protocol (VoIP) systems and solutions developer, is right now fully focused on driving the domestic and international growth and expansion of Flexiroam, the highly affordable mobile voice and data roaming service.
“Over the past two years, our revenue grew by 21 times, our customer base grew by 46 times to over 303,266 subscribers in 2014 and as of March 2014, we are now profitable,” said Jef Ong, Flexiroam Founder and Chief Executive Officer.
Flexiroam CEO Jef Ong (left) with Jason Khoo, Vice President of Business Development, Global
From January 2013, Flexiroam opened itself up to accepting outbound travellers from eight countries, namely, Malaysia, Singapore, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong and Indonesia, which resulted in savings of over RM10million in roaming charges for its customers.
In addition, Flexiroam also wants to have a physical presence in more countries and right now is in the process of setting up offices in Singapore and Indonesia.
It also wants to tap the potential of the 185 million outbound travellers from Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Singapore combined. Reports and surveys show that only 30% of these 185 million, or 55.5 million travellers, on average spend US$90 on roaming charges each, or US$5 billion overall, whilst the remaining 70% or 129.5 million travellers do not roam when overseas, so are not a revenue source.
However, the good news is that according to a report by the U.K. telecommunications regulator Ofcom, 57.1 million of these current nonroamers can be won over to roaming, and they represent a market potential worth US$1.7 billion, some of which Flexiroam aims to grab a sizeable share of.
Established in 2011, Flexiroam is strongly geared up to enable overseas travellers make and receive unlimited international voice calls on their mobile phones and save up to 90% off regular roaming chargeswith its mobile voice and data roaming service.
Flexiroam has partnership with over 580 mobile network operators worldwide and it lets them make and receive roaming calls in over 200 countries for an RM10 flat daily fee plus local mobile call charges.
Subscribers can choose to either purchase a Flexiroam unlimited roaming pass for RM10 per day and use it in conjunction with their home mobile number and a mobile SIM card purchased in the overseas country they are in.
More frequent travellers, including frequent business travellers may prefer to purchase a Flexiroam SIM card and insert it in their phone whilst overseas. This second option works across 150 countries seamlessly and best of all the subscribers enjoy unlimited data access.
Besides signing up through its website, travellers can also subscribe to Flexiroam at service counters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), KLIA2, the Subang Skypark Terminal and Kota Kinabalu Airport in Sabah.
It is also available from resellers, including over 400 travel agents in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, through partners such as AirAsia X, travel insurance agency Tenet Sompo Insurance in Singaporeand travel agencies like Mayflower in Malaysia and EU Holidays in Singapore.
For example, travellers who fly to Japan on AirAsia X get free data roaming with Flexiroam when they are in Japan, Tenet Sompo likewise provides its travel insurance customers with free data, and all these partnerships have helped Flexiroam expand across the region. For its efforts, Flexiroam won several awards, including the DEMO Guru Award in Singapore in February 2012 and the ASEAN Outstanding Business Award for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014. It also received a grant worth RM500,000 under the Cradle Investment Programme in July 2013 to further expand its ventures.
No need to swap your SIM card
Currently , Flexiroam subscribers need to either replace their original SIM card with a SIM card purchased from the country they are in, or with a Flexiroam SIM, but Flexiroam plans to skip this step by launching a portable wireless data communication device in early 2015, together with a downloadable Flexiroam client application which runs on most smart devices.
The device is similar to those battery operated, portable MiFi portable mobile data and WiFi hotspots. Smartphones and tablets connect to the device via WiFi or Bluetooth, however the Flexiroam application on the phone lets users data roam, make and receive calls through the Flexiroam device with their existing phone number.
Calls to a user's mobile number are forwarded to the Flexiroam gateway in his or her home country, which then reroutes the call to the Flexiroam device and is received by the Flexiroam application on the phone.
Reapfield Technology, an MSC Malaysia status company, applied for the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC)’s Product Development & Commercialisation Fund (PCF) in 2013, for matching financial assistance to develop and commercialise its Flexiroam device, under the InternetofThings (IoT) category.
Its application was approved in February 2014 and up to RM750,000 or 50% of its RM1.5 million development and commercialisation costs was allocated towards this device.
“Thanks to MDeC, we attracted the attention of local MNCs and investors in Japan and South Korea, who were excited about using our device as an alternative to roaming,” said Jef.
Unlike GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications), Third Generation (3G) and Fourth Generation (4G) cellular networks used in most of Europe, Asia and other parts of the world, some major mobile networks in Japan and South Korea employ U.S. bearer technologies such as CDMA2000 EVDO and other unique technologies which are not widely used outside North America. A brief history on mobile technology. The SIM card, global roaming and text messaging, were all part of Western Europe's secondgeneration (2G) GSM technology introduced in the early 1990s, and these features which we are only too familiar with, continued to be included in later 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) technology standards and specifications from General Packet Radio Services (GPRS), a 2.5G technology, all the way to leadingedge LTEAdvanced (Long Term Evolution Advanced), a 4G technology.
As phones which operate on some of the networks in Japan and South Korea do not use a SIM card, each phone is tied to a particular mobile number and account. In view of this and as an alternative, mobile network operators are interested in products such as Flexiroam's device which enables their subscribers to roam in other countries.
Five years ahead
“Now that we have a large enough base of international travellers for whom Flexiroam is their preferred choice of mobile communications voice and data services provider, we can create or partner with other valueadded travel related services providers, such as airline, hotel and taxi booking apps to give travellers a holistic pretravel booking experience” said Jef.
“We could also collaborate with mobile network operators on a revenuesharing basis to address niche market travellers such as those in the MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) travel market.
“We could also work with hotels and provide them with a customised Flexiroam SIM card with the hotel's identity and branding, which they can give to guests when they check in, to use for their voice and data, with costs being charged to their hotel bill.
“Ultimately our goal is to replicate our success across Asia and be the dominant budget roaming provider in this region” Jef concluded.
Flexiroam's parent company Reapfield Technology was established in 2005 by Jef Ong and his friend, fellow church member and mentor, David Ong (no relation), Founder and President of the Reapfield Group of Companies, which is primarily involved in realestate agency.
Despite its name, Reapfield Technology is not a subsidiary of the Reapfield Group but an associate company.
Back then Reapfield Technology developed communications systems based upon VoIP technology. Telekom Malaysia was its first customer which utilised its system for its VoIPbased BB Phone service and used numbers beginning with the “015” prefix, which indicate that they are VoIP numbers. Its other VoIP system customers were Global Transit Communications and PacketOne Networks (P1) for their “015” VoIP phone services.
Global Transit was acquired by Time dotCom in 2012 and Telekom Malaysia acquired the majority stake in P1 in March 2014. Reapfield Technology made about RM5 million profit since it began and invested all of that into Flexiroam, which will be the next big thing in the telecommunications industry.
Besides Flexiroam, Reapfield Technology's products include its VoiX range of customised carriergrade VoIP platforms designed for the specific needs of particular Internet service providers (ISP) and application service provides (ASP), which lets them provide their customers with superior, fully integrated voice, data and video services in one system.
The other product is Molecube, a softwarebased IP PBX (Internet Protocol private branch exchange) namely, an internal office telephone system, which apart from providing support for IP and analogue voice telephone extensions, also supports featurerich unified communications, including digitised voice, data, messaging, automated call distribution, interactive voice response system (IVR) and other office communications, all carried over a single IPbased, office communications infrastructure.
Molecube not only saves customers money on having to maintain multiple internal communication systems based upon different technologies and infrastructure, but is also more convenient and optimises business productivity.
Also, any number of extensions can be created and assigned to regular analogue phone sets, IP phone sets, smartphones and tablets, and deleted when not needed.
It also supports IPbased communications between a company's offices around the world, which lets colleagues in any office call each others’ extension without incurring any telecommunications call charges.