The direct and indirect costs related to mobile connectivity through cellular roaming, pay-on-demand Wi-Fi and free Wi-Fi is costing businesses in North America and Europe at least £2.19 billion a year, new research claims.
The costs come an “insatiable need” for connectivity and growing data consumption.
People on business in 2016 are estimated to be using on average 6GB of data per month when travelling and working “on the go,” the report by mobile connectivity firm iPass and Rethink Technology Research shows.
The term ‘free Wi-Fi’ remains misleading despite continuing growth of the service as connections are often slow, which prevent business applications from working properly, while also restricting the number of devices that can connect.
If adding this to the time people on the move spend seeking out and signing up to free Wi-Fi services, the negative impact on productivity soon adds up.
The report suggests that the loss in productivity from free Wi-Fi can cost businesses between £578 and £874 per person a month, dependent on their location and destination.
When connecting predominantly via cellular, North American mobile users travelling internationally incur costs of £155 to £1,100 a month.
French mobile professionals were the most negatively impacted when travelling outside of Europe, incurring costs of £1,034-£1,553 a month.
However, costs for UK mobile professionals were £117-£848 a month, and £264 – £936 for those from Germany.
When predominantly using cellular services within Europe, it would cost UK mobile professionals between £76-£139 a month. In France and Germany, the costs were £64–£262 and £92-£130, respectively.
When purchasing Wi-Fi on demand, UK mobile users incurred the greatest costs, using such services both inside (£143) and outside of Europe (£148) each month.
For the French, the costs were £115 and £135 a month and £121-£128 for German mobile users.
Overall, North American mobile professionals fared better – it cost them £112 to use Wi-Fi on demand domestically and £112 outside the US each month.
“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 principal analyst, Peter White.
“Furthermore, 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.”
Patricia Hume, chief commercial officer of iPass, said: “Connectivity has never been more important. Whether mobile professionals are trying to be productive by day or connect to friends and family by night, there is a tangible need to be connected all the time.
“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.
“Cost-effective and secure connectivity is paramount, yet free Wi-Fi does not provide the simplicity and convenience that today’s mobile professionals require.”