iPass, a provider of mobile services for enterprises and telecom service providers, recently revealed in its Wi-Fi Cost Index report that European businesses are overspending by at least 50% through unmanaged connectivity charges from business travellers making international trips.

This clearly marks a problem for globe-trotting employees and executives. The question is: what technologies are available to help, and how can businesses adopt them? René Hendrikse, Vice President for iPass EMEA, spills the connectivity beans to TechRadar Pro.

TechRadar Pro: What do the findings in the iPass Wi-Fi Cost Index Report reveal about businesses approaches to traveler connectivity?

René Hendrikse: At least £2.4 billion per year is being wasted on unmanaged data connectivity costs. During 2012 European business travellers made 65.1 million international business trips with an average spend on essential connectivity per trip per traveler of £73.91 when travelling within Europe, £128.73 when travelling to the USA and £138.56 to Asia.

This means that a minimum of £4.8 billion was spent in 2012 by European business travellers merely to get online. In contrast, enabling business travellers with a global Wi-Fi network would realise savings of at least 50%, as documented by the Wi-Fi Cost Index report: equivalent to £2.4 billion per year.

TRP: Why is this wastage figure so high?

RH: Enterprises are being stung by a lack of advance planning around how to enable mobile workers with high-bandwidth connectivity. Merely incorporating data roaming charges or bills from one-off Wi-Fi access into departmental expenses means that the true extent of the cost of mobility is often hidden.

Access to connectivity is undeniably vital for productivity; in this environment it's more critical than ever for businesses to look for ways to make the mobile working experience more productive for staff, and more cost effective.

TRP: What does this mean for businesses?

RH: Mobile working has become ingrained in the fabric of many businesses, yet even in today's cost-cutting environment, businesses are wasting money unnecessarily by failing to manage connectivity services and costs for their business travellers when working abroad.

Business travellers expect connectivity across multiple devices, wherever they go, in order to work productively. This means that failure to see connectivity as an essential part of business travel is badly bruising business' wallets.

TRP: How much are business travellers paying to connect to Wi-Fi around the world?

RH: The average spend on Wi-Fi day passes is £22.30 within the EU, £18.51 in the US, and £27.96 in Asia per traveller, per trip, while the average spend on data roaming within Europe was £51.36, and in US/Asia, £109.69 per traveller per trip. In Europe, the average per MB cost for data usage is £0.37, and in the US and Asia, £1.43.

The typical daily MB usage by a business traveler is between 2720 MB and 5754 MB, from a range of tasks including checking email, web browsing, Skype calls, WebEx, and downloading files such as presentations and PDF's. The typical business trip lasts four days.
Q5. What can organisations do about this?

Providing business travellers with access to a global network of wireless hotspots is one key way to avoid getting hit by unmanaged connectivity charges whilst travelling.

Enabling employees with a Wi-Fi network which provides fast and secure connectivity means that business travellers will not only be able to work productively when abroad, but also cost effectively, avoid costly roaming charges and Wi-Fi day passes.