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There’s no such thing as a ‘free’ WiFi session

free wifi

via Flickr © Yahoo Inc (CC BY 2.0)

  • Once you add the indirect costs of going 'free' it may turn out to be better to pay a bit more

Connectivity provider, iPass, and Rethink Technology Research have produced a report they say “reveals the direct and indirect costs of mobile connectivity through cellular roaming, pay-on-demand Wi-Fi and free Wi-Fi, across the US and Europe.”

Obviously iPass has a dog in this fight as it’s involved in selling global WiFi connectivity designed and priced to take the kinks out of global access and deliver a consistent service.

With that in mind this report highlights the indirect costs of using services that are difficult to find and maybe less than optimum to use.

It points out that ‘free’ WiFi can be a misleading term because the connections can be slow, preventing critical applications from working properly. Add to that the time mobile professionals spend seeking out and signing up to free Wi-Fi services, if points out, and the negative impact on productivity soon adds up. The report suggests that the loss in productivity from free Wi-Fi can cost businesses between £578 and £874 per mobile professional each month, dependent on their location and destination.

Take discoverable direct costs and then add estimated indirect costs to them and some interesting comparisons emerge - especially between different countries and regions.

The report says that the cost of connectivity varies for mobile professionals across both Europe and North America depending on the methods they use.

“So when connecting predominantly via cellular, North American mobile professionals travelling internationally incur costs of £155 - £1,100 per month. French mobile professionals were the most negatively impacted when travelling outside of Europe, incurring costs of £1,034 - £1,553 per month.

“In comparison, costs for UK mobile professionals were £117 - £848 per month, and costs for German mobile professionals were £264 - £936.

“When predominantly using cellular services within Europe, it would cost UK mobile professionals between £76 - £139 per month. In France and Germany, the costs were £64 – £262 and £92 - £130, respectively.

“When it came to purchasing Wi-Fi on demand, UK mobile professionals incurred the greatest costs, using such services both inside (£143) and outside of Europe (£148) each month. For French mobile professionals, the costs were £115 and £135 each month; for German mobile professionals, it was £121 and £128 each month. Overall, North American mobile professionals fared better: it cost them £112 to use Wi-Fi on demand domestically and £112 outside the US each month.

The report concludes that although the costs of cellular roaming have been reduced, particularly in Europe, they still remain substantial and when piecemeal payment for Wi-Fi is factored in and makes the option expensive without providing the simplicity and convenience it’s supposed to.

According to Peter White, Principal Analyst and Founder of Rethink Technology Research, business leaders must understand the value of providing secure, reliable and cost-effective connectivity. “This means ensuring their mobile workforce is connected via the right means, at any given time or location,” he said.

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