Tom Dolan RovAir Interview
Hear What The President Of Rovair Has To Say About Mobile Broadband Rental!

RovAir is considered one of the leading providers of day pass wireless mobile broadband in the U.S.  As being constantly connected to the Internet for business and pleasure continues to become more and more popular/critical, people are looking for affordable and convenient options to meet their lifestyle and budget.  Tom Dolan, President, was kind enough to allow to pick his brain in the following interview.  Thank you, Tom!

Interview Date:  May 11, 2009

1.   [PWG] What was the impetus behind starting RovAir?

[Dolan] I was on vacation in a rental home without internet access, so I purchased the two year contract and got the card.  Reality – I only needed it for the two week vacation, and thoTom Dolan - President of RovAirught I surely can’t be the only one that rented a home that needs to stay connected in a convenient location.  It prompted me to research data card rental companies, of which there were only one or two, and they were really cell phone rental companies.  Being a hotel real estate professional, I also was able to identify that there is also a niche in the hotel business itself; it is a pretty controversial topic amongst travelers.


2.   [PWG] What’s RovAir’s target demographic, and how are your services positioned against prepaid broadband services that also have weekly offerings?

[Dolan] Our target demographic are businesspersons that have a need to stay connected while traveling.  Generally speaking, most everyone needs it to stay connected to their business while traveling for business or leisure.


3.   [PWG] What differentiates RovAir from other available rental services?

[Dolan] We have built our website similar to a travel site, and not a shopping cart type model.  Travelers are familiar with the process of a car rental, hotel, or airline reservation system, so our website was built around a reservation system model.
We are also able to activate equipment that is not our own in an On Demand fashion; the advantages of this are less lead time to reservation, and we eliminate the shipping process.  It’s more of a virtual distribution.

I would personally like to work with all my competition rather than work against them.  Working together will allow us to create a greater degree of awareness.  Our biggest hurdle is educating the public that they don’t have to be confined by the limits of a “hotspot.”


4.   [PWG] You currently offer Sprint (CDMA) and Verizon (CDMA) broadband modems; do you have plans to offer services from other carriers?

[Dolan] Right now we only offer Sprint and Verizon, so we do not have a GSM carrier in the US.  We are considering AT&T; their process is a little different. There are advantages to bringing them in.  Overall, we would like to begin coverage in Europe, which would push us to using one of the carriers over there.  The cost effectiveness for the consumer needs to there for it to be worthwhile.

5.   [PWG] If I have an inactive wireless broadband modem on a network that you support, can I purchase service from you as I need it?  That way I wouldn’t have to deal with waiting for, and returning the modem each time I want to use it.

[Dolan] Yes; it’s called RovAir On Demand. Right now we need 24 hour lead time, but in the future, we hope to be able to activate within minutes.


6.   [PWG] It appears as though I need to have a credit card to pay for RovAir service.  Are there other ways to fund the service, or is RovAir not targeting cash based customers?

[Dolan] We are not targeting cash based services unless it is for RovAir on demand. Then we could inactivate the card for users who don’t pay on time.


7.   [PWG] Have you experienced any challenges with people receiving a modem that is damaged?  If so, how does RovAir work to ensure customers are up and running quickly?

[Dolan] All modems are tested before they leave.  We thought technical support would be a challenging, but have found that we have very few tech support calls.  95% of the problems are with Verizon, not Sprint.  If we do have a tech support situation, 50% are handled internally relatively quickly.  If we have a situation that we cannot resolve, we escalate it to the carrier, in which case, we call the carrier and then conference in the customer so that they do not have to wait on hold.  About 95% of all problems are resolved quickly, and are usually on conflict on the customer’s computer, not with the card. When we do have a problem with the card that cannot be resolved, we refund all costs including shipping, and offer a free day next time they rent.  It’s all about customer service.


8.   [PWG] I think the rental idea is great, and provides the additional benefit of occasional users not having to worry about maintaining current wireless equipment.  I can see certain people wanting to use your service on a sporadic, but not infrequent basis, and who would enjoy the benefits of rental, but are looking for more value.  Do you offer, or plan to offer, any return customer or loyalty programs? 

[Dolan] Yes, we are starting a refer-a-friend program and have the framework for a customer loyalty program termed i-daypass.  We hope to have a program rolled out by the fall.


9.   [PWG] Mobile broadband is a market that’s really heating up, and carriers are planning on offering wireless enabled netbooks as part of their portfolio.  Could you see RovAir offering such a product on a rental basis?

[Dolan] Yes, but we would rather partner with a laptop rental company, and then activate their built in units under RovAir On demand.


10. [PWG] Where do you see the mobile broadband rental market five years from now?

[Dolan] 3G rentals will be gone in its current form.  In other words, I think people will have either gotten them built-in, and then just use RovAir On Demand, or they will have moved on to some sort of 4G or whitespace, which we will begin to penetrate. 


11. [PWG] What’s the origin of the company name “RovAir”?

[Dolan] We started with the idea of naming the company Rover or Air Rover, but thought we would open ourselves to a trademark infringement with other companies out there like Land Rover.  So we came up with roving the airways, or RovAir.  You’ll notice certain subtle details on our website and logo referencing a dog, like the red ball with the paw print, and our trademarked “we are the traveler’s best friend.”


12. [PWG] Is there anything else that you think people should know about RovAir?

[Dolan] Yes.  Customers should realize that rental companies offer a distinct advantage over the WiFi/ hotspot competition like Boingo, T-Mobile, AT&T etc.  These 3 carriers have significant control over the worldwide hotspot market; they advertise roughly 250,000 hotspots in total worldwide.  Big deal!  With 3G service, we have hundreds of millions of hotspots.  We give the traveler true mobility for a better value.

Read more about Wireless Broadband Rental

Rom Dolan Rovair Interview

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