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What’s happening with Pooled Data plans?

By Colm 15th March 2016

Evolution of Tariffing Strategies

The enterprise tariffing strategies of mobile carriers continue to evolve. Today it is normal for most plans to include unlimited domestic voice and text. The key driver of cost is now mobile data. And around data, there are many choices in terms of plan. Historically the most common approach has been a data add-on of a particular size on top of the voice and text plan. Such a plan may or may not distinguish between 3G and 4G bearer (though why this should matter is hard to fathom).

What are Pooled Data Plans

Today we increasingly see mobile carriers offering plans where data allowances are pooled across the enterprise. Pooled data plans come in two flavors. The first is a simple evolution of the existing ‘data add-on’ which allows unused data from one enterprise device to be used by others within the enterprise. In this case, the enterprise only pays additional charges when its use of data exceeds the combined data allowances of all its connections. To increase the size of the pool you either add new devices or upgrade a subset of your devices to higher individual plan. A more recent innovation is the  ‘pure pool’. In this version, you buy the data you need regardless of the number of devices. The devices then draw from the pool until it is ‘dry’ – if your total usage is above the size of the pool then out of bundle is charged at an agreed rate.
In considering whether or not to move to a pooled data plan it’s important to understand exactly how much flexibility your mobile service provider offers. Ideally, you would want an attractively priced plan sized to reflect your likely short term need.  You’d then like to reset the pool size as your needs evolve.

What operators really offer

Unfortunately, this is often not what the operator offers – more likely it’s a 2-year commitment to a pool of fixed size with high charges in the event you exceed your enterprise allowance. The reality is that your data needs in two years are almost impossible to predict. You need to take a view on how your business mobility needs will evolve and then translate this into a currency, bytes of mobile data, which no one really understands. As the saying goes ‘good luck with that.’