blogger-336371_960_720The iPass Mobile Connectivity Cost Index, produced in conjunction with Rethink Technology Research and released this week, found that North American and European businesses are incurring costs of at least $2.91 billion each year on connectivity for their mobile professionals traveling and working “on the go.”

The report found that, when connecting predominantly via cellular, North American mobile professionals traveling internationally incur individual costs of anywhere from $205 – $1,459 per month. Additionally, when purchasing Wi-Fi on demand – in airports, inflight, at hotels and while on the go in public locations – U.S. workers are racking up further costs of approximately $148 per month domestically, in addition to similar charges when traveling abroad.

The cost of ‘free’ Wi-Fi

office-620822_960_720The rapid proliferation of ‘free’ Wi-Fi represents a flawed resource on which businesses are relying too heavily. Free Wi-Fi connections are often slow, which prevent business applications from working properly, while also restricting the number of devices that can connect.  If you add this to the time mobile professionals spend seeking out and signing up to free Wi-Fi services, the negative impact on productivity soon adds up. The report suggests the loss in productivity from free Wi-Fi can cost businesses between $767 and $1,159 per mobile professional each month, dependent on their location and destination.

“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,” said Patricia Hume, chief commercial officer of iPass. “The costs of keeping mobile professionals connected are more than many businesses realize, highlighting the need for businesses to have greater visibility into their employees’ data usage. Free Wi-Fi simply does not provide the simplicity and convenience that today’s mobile professionals require. Not only does it present numerous security risks, and render critical business data at risk of being exposed, but it additionally hinders productivity as workers spend time locating access to networks.”

Growing data consumption of professionals

The Cost Index data, which assumes an average of six trips per month per individual, factors in the average costs for direct expenses such as in-flight, hotel and airport Wi-Fi fees and cellular data overages. It also highlights the extent of both U.S.-based and European mobile professionals’ data usage, as web conferencing, social media and video streaming usurp email as the most data-intensive applications utilized by employees on a regular basis. The average mobile worker now consumes approximately 760MB of data per day, with video conferencing apps representing the most significant drain on data at approximately 225MB each day. When working “on the go”, mobile professionals are estimated to use on average 6GB of data each per month.

“As we become more mobile as a global workforce, Voice over IP (VoIP) and video conferencing technologies have made it possible for workers across the globe to connect instantly from remote locations,” said Hume. “However, the data usage associated with these apps can present a significant expense to businesses. When assessing their mobile strategies, many companies also fail to account for the indirect costs – including the lost productivity that derives from the inability to immediately source a reliable and safe connection.”

Peter White, Principal Analyst and Founder of Rethink Technology Research also underscored the need for a robust enterprise mobile strategy, adding: “Although the costs of cellular roaming have been reduced, they still remain substantial when the amount of data used by a mobile professional is taken into account. 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.”