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

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.

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