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FCG, from rental party to total provider

The name Flash Connectivity Group probably doesn’t ring a bell. This will not be the case with Flash Private Mobile Networks, 2WAY and, to a lesser extent, the still young start-up PrioCom. All three are involved in business and mission-critical communication solutions. They are connected via the umbrella Flash Connectivity Group.

Flash Connectivity Group (FCG) was established in April 2019. The companies that are part of that group, Flash Private Mobile Networks (in the Netherlands and Belgium), 2WAY and PrioCom, were already part of the same holding company. FCG was set up to allow the three to completely focus on their core tasks. As a parent company, it facilitates services in the areas of management, finance, HR, business development and marketing and communications for its ‘subsidiaries’. “This changed organisational structure gives more room for innovation and growth and enables us to offer customers an even broader spectrum of communication solutions,” says FCG director and co-owner Simone van Putten.

Next June, it will be 25 years since she and entrepreneur Ko van Strien started Flash Rental Services from a home in Dirksland. “I had the ambition to start something for myself,” says Van Putten. “That could’ve been anything, from selling used forklifts to importing bananas; but it became renting two-way radios. I was working in the telecommunications industry and was asked by Verolme if they could also rent two-way radios. They used it to communicate at the shipyard. The number of people who worked there changed on each project so they wanted to have more temporary two-way radios. My employer at the time didn’t believe it was worthwhile, and neither did other providers. So I dived into it and discovered that a lot of other companies wanted this option as well. I found a partner in Ko and the two of us started renting out two-way radios from his sunroom.”

More than 25,000 devices

Soon, when the first employees arrived, Van Putten and Van Strien moved from the sunroom to the garden shed. When they grew out of that too, Flash moved to Moezelweg in the Europoort in 1999. The premises there have since been expanded a number of times and continues to be Flash’s headquarters, now called Flash Private Mobile Networks. FCG also has an office there. Ko van Strien has since left the company. He sold his interest in 2001 to a private equity fund, which is still co-owner. According to Van Putten: “Our rental fleet now consists of more than 25,000 ATEX and non-ATEX devices. The majority are two-way radios, but also mobile two-way radios, DMR radios, smartphones and tablets. This makes us the market leader in the Netherlands and Belgium, where we have been active since 2009. Customers can rent equipment for one day, but also for ten years. From the two-way radio rental, we then started focusing on private mobile networks. Our devices are mainly used for mission-critical communication. For example, companies here in Europoort and Botlek that are active in the chemical and petrochemical industry use them, as do the stewards at Feyenoord Stadium. For the sake of safety and the efficient implementation of processes, it’s very important that communication is optimally organised at these locations. This includes not only reliable means of communication, but also a network that you can always count on. We deliver both. Depending on the level of safety the customer prefers, we can guarantee this in our private mobile networks up to 99.9999 percent.”

Public order and safety

With Flash Private Mobile Networks, FCG mainly serves the private market. “Due to the position we had at some point in that market, there was also demand from the public sector for our services. In 2011, we set up a separate company for this, called 2WAY. It’s located in Zeewolde and focuses exclusively on organisations involved in public order and safety, to which it supplies ICT infrastructures and communication solutions and 2WAY provides the maintenance. For example, the company manages the technology for the P2000 infrastructure, the well-known emergency network used by the police, fire brigade and ambulance services.”

Push-to-Talk

To facilitate business and mission-critical communication in bigger operating areas as well, the startup PrioCom was set up in 2018. This company developed a push-to-talk application that allows nationwide communication over a virtual private network. To do this, PrioCom has priority use of T-Mobile’s public network so users can be sure of high availability, sufficient bandwidth and a higher quality of service than is the case with standard GSM use over that network. “This service is very well suited for both voice and data communication,” explains Van Putten. “We are focusing more and more on the latter, which is how we are responding to market needs, as we have always done. Our customers want the option of combining and integrating all kinds of different information flows in a single device, and that is why we are increasingly specialised in system integration in order to be a knowledge partner for our customers in that area as well. PrioCom is a good example of that.”

Written by: Erik Stroosma

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