Do shared mobile data plans still work in a 5G ‘Mobile First’ world?
As we move into a 5G mobile world, the way that corporate smartphones are used is going to continue to change and it is likely to have a material impact on both the level of data consumption and the way that businesses buy their mobile services.
Where a ‘corporate usage profile’ largely used to mean ‘low level browsing, email and calendar’ then it was easy to assume that large levels of data usage were probably linked to personal usage or in some instances device tethering; and in most cases the corporate IT team would look to try and control that usage to keep costs in check.
In support of this corporate usage profile, many businesses have rightly adopted “shared mobile data” plans as the default ‘best’ option for mobile tariffs. For this relatively low level of ‘corporate usage’ a ‘shared data plan’ can be cost effective, helping to smooth out relatively small differences in data usage between different users. However in practice in most businesses there are actually very significant and growing levels of personal usage that are being masked by these shared allowances. With shared plans, unlike individual plans, there is typically no direct cost on the individual user’s account, as all data costs are centralised on a single connection. This doesn’t mean there isn’t a real cost to all that data usage, it’s simply a case that the cost is unassociated from the high personal usage and so typically goes unidentified.
In a 5G world, businesses will see a further stepped growth in mobile data usage driven by cloud services, an increased use of video and collaboration tools and, unless it’s locked down, through greater personal use of corporate phones. There are also likely to be a wide range of new services that faster 4G and 5G networks will help to enable, driving further data consumption.
In a world where users are more likely to consume 10-20GB per month, then the discussion quickly switches from optimising usage to keep within the shared plan, to how best to support materially higher levels of usage without incurring vast cost increases.
When looked at on a price per GB basis, shared data is still relatively expensive for higher levels of usage compared to individual plans which offer much better value for ‘personally enabled ’ usage. As a result, businesses that don’t recognise the hidden cost of personal usage will continue to increase their shared allowances (or pay expensive overage charges), whereas the more appropriate solution may well be to consider implementing a hybrid solution that combines a shared data plan for lower volume ‘corporate profile users’ and individual higher capacity data plans or even unlimited plans to ‘personally enable’ data usage on business phones.
At Utelize, see this model also combining well with a Choose Your Own Device (CYOD) program where users can opt to pay a simple fixed premium or monthly ‘bolt on’ to upgrade their corporate device and/or enable the personal usage ‘bolt on’.
As part of our Managed Mobile Services we’ve now started adopting this new hybrid model, giving businesses the option for employees to ‘personally enable’ their devices and mobile services, whilst still retaining all the benefits of a corporate roaming plans, cost control and a tailored support service.