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Mobile connectivity still costing businesses billions

Despite efforts to bring down the cost of mobile connectivity for business users, a report from iPass shows business travellers are incurring hundreds of pounds of charges every month

The direct and indirect costs of mobile connectivity through roaming, pay-on-demand Wi-Fi and free Wi-Fi continue to mount up, hitting £2.19bn a year across Europe and North America, despite ongoing efforts by network operators and regulators to bring down the costs, according to wireless network aggregator iPass.

Its report said mobile professionals were estimated to be using an average of 6GB per person per month when travelling or working remotely.

It also highlighted the continued growth of so-called “free” Wi-Fi, which iPass said was often anything but. Free Wi-Fi connections, such as those found in public spaces or cafés, have a tendency to be slower than average, so business applications or virtual private network (VPN) tools struggle to use them. Massive security risks must also be taken into account.

The loss of productivity from basically unusable free services, coupled with the time wasted in seeking out and signing up to them, was thought to cost between £578 and £874 per person per month in terms of lost productivity.

“The direct and indirect costs of keeping mobile professionals connected are more than many businesses realise, highlighting the need for businesses to have greater visibility into their employees’ data usage,” said iPass chief commercial officer Pat Hume. “Cost-effective and secure connectivity is paramount, yet free Wi-Fi does not provide the simplicity and convenience that today’s mobile professionals require.”

When it came to buying Wi-Fi on demand, Brits were hit with the biggest costs for using such services both inside (£143 per month) and outside of Europe (£148 per month), between £10 and £20 more than their French and German counterparts, and significantly more than US travellers, the report said.

When travelling within the European Union (EU) and connecting using mobile roaming services, UK business travellers could expect to spent £76 to £139 per month, compared with £64 to £262 for the French and £92 to £130 for the Germans.

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When connecting via mobile roaming outside the EU, the Brits also fared well, incurring costs of between £117 and £848 per month, compared with £155 to £1,100 per month for Americans, and a massive £1,034 to £1,553 for the French.

“Although the costs of cellular roaming have been reduced, particularly in Europe, they still remain substantial when the amount of data used by a mobile professional is taken into account,” said Rethink Technology Research principal analyst and founder, Peter White, who conducted the research.

“Also, piecemeal payment for Wi-Fi becomes expensive very quickly, and critically fails to provide the simplicity and convenience that users crave. Business leaders need to understand the value of providing secure, reliable and cost-effective connectivity. This means ensuring their mobile workforce is connected via the right means, at any given time or location.”

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