RealTime IT News

Wireless Costs Slipping through the Cracks

A hodgepodge wireless phone policy at the office is contributing to more than 25 percent of a company's telephone bill, according to a report published by analyst firm Yankee Group Monday.

Keith Mallinson, author of the report, "Despite Savings, Enterprises are Slow to Adopt Centralized Wireless Voice Purchasing Plans," finds wireless voice and data accounts aren't centrally managed and companies are "overspending substantially," he said in a statement. Of those large corporations surveyed, 48 percent didn't have a central authority for purchasing wireless voice plans.

In the '80s and '90s, wireless phones were a perk for the corporate elite. But as more and more business people pick up their own handsets and list it on the expense report, he states, the absence of a policy for users around the U.S. and the world is cutting into the company's telecom budget.

"Purchasing managers must recognize requirements specific to locality and users," Mallinson said in his report. "Verizon Wireless has worked hard to point out that it has the best overall coverage in the land and Sprint PCS belabors the point that it has a consistent all-digital network, but that does not mean that either is best for everybody in every place."

Digital wireless phone bills account for a hefty chunk of change, when phone services are bought individually by a company's mobile users. Many companies sign volume deals with wireless providers to get price discounts, though judging by the Yankee Group report, not many are taking advantage of those deals.

For example, the two carriers Mallinson mentioned -- Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS -- carry plans that can certainly add up if employees sign up individually. Verizon Wireless America's Choice voice plans range from $34.99 to $300 a month and $79.99 a month for Internet access through a laptop; Sprint's Free & Clear Plans for Business range from $35 to $125 a month for voice and $80 a month (for a limited time) for its Unlimited Data Plan (also through a laptop).

While businesses are losing money through the policy cracks, telecom providers aren't making much profit from data services, either.

According to the PriceWaterhouseCoopers "2003 Wireless Industry Survey," 88 percent of the U.S. and Canadian wireless providers surveyed offer Web over a handset or console, another 81 percent offer e-mail services.

Of those surveyed, 87 percent said their data services revenue made up less than five percent of their overall services revenue.