Connectivity for travelling workforce cost businesses £855m last year

European and US employees travelling on the job cost businesses around £855 million in one year in connectivity costs, a study claims.

Keeping employees online while travelling in Europe and abroad through roaming, pay-on-demand WiFi would have cost £1.42 billion in 2014, Rethink Technology Research, who conducted the survey, said.

Of the £855 million being "wasted" last year, £275 million stems from business trips within Europe, it reported, as part of its Business Traveller's Connectivity Cost Index.

A further £243 million came from Europeans traveling outside of Europe and £337 million from US workers travelling internationally.

Despite recent announcement that the EU will cap or even abolish roaming charges, costs for enterprise could still be high.

Rethink valued the cost of using cellular data by European travellers within Europe at £34 for a euro data bundle of 4.5gb. However, it is likely that mobile operators would charge at least this amount for a business traveller to increase their plans to allow them to use 4.5gb of mobile data.

The cap of €0.05 or 3.5p per mb which will come into play from April 2016, means that a business traveller using 4.5gb of data a month (average usage by business travellers according to Rethink Research) would be £157.50, more than the £34 estimate in this report.

Free Wi-Fi often prevents business applications from working properly due to slow internet speeds.

"It may be counter intuitive, but using Free Wi-Fi is one of the most expensive things you can ask your employees to do. There are long periods, like in-flight, when they cannot work, or where they are wandering around looking for a free connection. Also, around 50 percent of hotels who say they offer free Wi-Fi charge a premium for a service fast enough to actually work on.

“Employees forced to go down this route certainly won’t be as productive as they should be and they may well feel underappreciated and be more likely to leave," said Peter White, Principal Analyst and Founder, Rethink.

Global network provider iPass claim the findings proved global enterprise networks were the most cost effective option.

“Failing to have a practical and convenient policy for mobile connectivity can be a costly mistake for businesses," said Gary Griffiths, iPass president and CEO.

"The amount of mobile data consumed by business is growing rapidly, as more employees adopt the use of cloud-based mobile applications of all kinds and look to replicate enterprise working environments on their smart-phones, tablets, and laptops.

“Although there are millions of free and pay-on-demand Wi-Fi hotspots, connecting to them often poses multiple annoyances - from having to enter personal and credit card information repeatedly - to the threat of exposing sensitive business and personal information on unsecured networks.”

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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