Get it Right. Now:
Xigo's Telecom Expense Management Blog
There has been a ton of talk in the industry about overage charges, international roaming and the general state of wireless billing since the launch of the iPad 3 and the revelation that the iPhone 5 is finally on its way. The prevailing feeling is that wireless carriers are out to get whatever money they can from consumers and businesses by cutting unlimited data plans, throttling users to force them to upgrade their plans, and charging exorbitant charges for any data use over what was agreed to in your plan (sometimes as much as $20/GB!).
The problem should not be user consumption. Some carriers are trying to make users “aware” that they are using too much data or have the gall to do something like want to watch video from a mobile device or send email while on a business trip to a foreign country.
Think about that for a moment. These should not be problems that the consumers of mobile devices should have to deal with. We buy these for business and personal use to both work and play harder, faster and from wherever we are. That is why 4G devices and networks exist—to do more, better, and while watching your daughter’s softball game.
There’s no turning back the clock. We’ve melded work and personal schedules together creating a business reality shaped around flex time and 24/7 availability. We’ve agreed to BYOD policies that enable mobile work.
Mobile carriers need to stop trying to make us all step backwards and deal with outdated pricing plans that punish consumers and businesses that use their devices and networks as intended.
The overage charges are ludicrous and will end up having a negative effect for carriers—turning all audiences off from mobile work and ultimately hurting their own earnings.
I’m not advocating for unlimited data use plans—those were nice, but they’re never coming back—especially when carriers see a way to monetize data use. But they shouldn’t be monetizing it in ways that dissuade people from using it in the first place.
The answer for consumers is a mix of awareness (how much have I used?/how much does this action take?) and tiers for overages. Instead of handing a consumer a $1,200 bill because they had an emergency while on vacation and needed to use their device, build some tiers into overage plans. Charge a certain amount for the first GB over and then increase the amount. Or do it in a first offense, second offense manner. These plans could be competitive differentiators carriers could use to attract more customers, i.e., “…are you often over your allotment? We offer tiered plans, alerts and one-time upgrade fees to make sure you don’t end up with a surprise $2,000 mobile bill.”
For businesses, the answer is even clearer: offer data pooling across your company. Pooling is an approach where regardless of the number of employees in an office, the company pays for a certain amount of data for all of its users. This isn’t a new idea---it’s long been a staple of corporate voice plans to make sure that the salesperson on the road balances out with the desk-bound HR representative. With so many different roles, responsibilities and schedules within each organization it is impossible to come up with a plan that fits everyone at the same time, and the variations in work schedules that change from month to month. Usage—and therefore expenses—would balance out better. Carriers could get businesses to sign long-term contracts and compete on who offered the better data pooling plan.
The industry needs to evolve at the same pace that devices and networks evolve. Making it easier for businesses and consumers to be cost-conscious and successful always wins out.