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How to Find the Right Mobile Plan for Your Business

Today's working environment requires employees to be accessible wherever they are, making corporate mobility one of the most costly expenses for companies. What can they do to keep these costs under control?

Visage Mobile helps companies track and manage mobility costs using software that aggregates and organizes data about enterprise mobility spend, and the devices and users behind them. We caught up with Mani Zarrehparvar, Visage Mobile’s president and former director of mobility and product management at AT&T to find out what the current data on corporate mobility means — and which strategies you can use to reduce this expense.

Why is mobility one of the highest expense categories for business?

Zarrehparvar: The biggest factor is that the actual unit costs that you pay for roaming are extremely expensive if you're not on the right plan. I could buy a 120MB plan for about $40 (30 cents per MB), but if I don't buy a plan and I travel, some carriers will charge me as much as $19.95 per MB. There's a huge cost discrepancy.

What other factors affect mobility costs?

Within the enterprise company paid mobile is managed by IT and travel is managed [in another department]. Typically, a business traveler books a trip through the travel department, gets on a plane, goes to London, comes back five days later. About 45 days after that, a $3,000 to $5,000 roaming bill shows up, and that's the first time IT knows that trip happened. If IT doesn't know someone is traveling they can't get them on the right plan in order to make that trip less expensive.

Where are the biggest areas of overspend in enterprise mobility?

The biggest area of overspend is people continuing to buy larger and larger buckets of data for enterprise users in an environment where the average consumption is still below 2GB. Data usage in 2015 was up 51 percent from the previous year for enterprise lines. Even after this increase, average usage was around 1.9GB per line.

The other big one is roaming. In a typical enterprise, in any given month, 25 of 1,000 employees will travel internationally and will have some roaming consumption. Out of those 25, eight of them travel without a plan. So here's the challenge for IT: find the eight out of those 1,000 lines that are going to generate multi-thousand dollar roaming bills.

Where the actual wasteful spending happens on roaming is that for that same enterprise, about 14 percent will have a paid-for roaming feature or plan on their device and will not travel. IT [could] put everybody who might travel on an $80 a month feature that prevents the huge roaming bill. Since the typical business traveler who travels internationally travels once every 14 months, you are paying about $1,000 a year for every single line to make sure that one line doesn't get a $3,000 bill.

What other data is there on this?

When you look at effective cost per minute for roaming across carriers, by far the most expensive in the U.S. is T-Mobile. [We knew there had to be] a data anomaly because T-Mobile is famous for selling roaming plans and features at a highly discounted rate, so we started looking into what was driving this high roaming cost. The reason T-Mobile has the highest effective cost-per-minute for roamers is [that network] has the highest proportion of people who have a roaming plan but don't roam.

Do any types of business have particularly high or low roaming costs? Why?

Companies that tend to use more data [rather than voice or messaging] will have a higher total cost. Also, those that travel internationally tend to have higher costs. For example, financial services, technology tend to travel more, while it's rare to have people in the utilities space take international trips. That's the discrepancy we see on spend.

The most expensive vertical that we see is technology, in the range of $83 per line. On the other end of the spectrum are energy and agriculture, about $49.55 per line. The average is about $64 per line across all lines.


Sharon Hurley Hall is a professional freelance writer and blogger. Her career has spanned more than 20 years, including stints as a journalist, academic writer, university lecturer and ghost writer. Connect with Sharon on her website and Twitter.

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