In the first two parts of our series about the interesting characters lurking in your mobile bills, we took a look at the extremes of data use – the Data Hog and the Data Snacker. Now, let’s look at the characters in between, starting with the Roamers, aka the “Bill Shockers.”
These Shockers are the reason you’re asked to explain £500 plus bills and why average monthly spend spikes by around 12% every July and August. These excessive bills are generally due to data roaming rather than calls. And in many cases, this roaming is inadvertent i.e. unbeknownst to the end user. Take for example the employee stuck away from home who wants to watch their team’s vital Euros 2016 match and connects to their hotel’s Wi-Fi. If the Wi-Fi experiences problems many mobile devices will switch to cellular without the user being aware of it, running up a massive bill. Not alone does this cost your company money, but it can often lead to employees facing unjustified accusations of failing to take due care of company resources.
The EU Commission has mandated that EU roaming charges must end in June of 2017. The Brexit vote has, however, created uncertainty in this regard. It will be at least two years before we know exactly what roaming regime British residents visiting the EU and EU residents visiting Britain will face. While roaming charges will disappear as planned in June 2017, once Britain leaves the EU, the current roaming regulations will no longer apply. And this doesn’t just impact British mobile users – EU Telecos will be free to reintroduce charges for UK roaming to their customers.
It’s all about the data
Regardless of what happens in Europe, for anyone roaming in Asia, Africa or the Americas the opportunity to run up massive bills will remain. While downloading a gigabyte of data on your home network is relatively inexpensive there are many places where such consumption will cost you £5,000 or more. And with average smartphone data consumption per month expected to grow from 1.8 GB to 18 GB the opportunities for such ‘bill shock’ events will only increase.
How should an enterprise best deal with roaming in high-cost locations?
Where possible, you should pre-enroll employees on a data roaming package. Typically these packages allow you to download 50, 100 or 200 MB of data per day for a fixed daily or monthly fee. Operators’ ability to keep your employees informed about how much of their allowance they have used is patchy. For this reason, an on-device app which keeps your employee up to date on their roaming data use (and imposes limits if necessary) can be helpful. This will enable your employee to make the right decisions around the use of mobile data. If you’re late for a meeting and need to check Google Maps, that’s okay; if you’re sitting in the airport streaming the latest episode of Game of Thrones…maybe a switch to Wi-Fi would make sense.
Non-EU roaming is and will remain the real cost driver. And as businesses large and small become ever more global, it’s important to provide your employees with the tools to allow them to get their job done on the road without the worry of ending up on the ‘naughty list.’
In part 4 we will tackle the last two gruesome characters of our series… the Zombie and the Rogues.