Businesses Have Many Options for Employee Mobile Plans

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2012-07-19 Print this article Print


Some, including competitor T-Mobile suggest that Verizon€™s plan is both expensive and punitive. Every other carrier, including AT&T, offers individual plans in addition to the sharing plans. 

The problem for your business is that your employees can find themselves entering into a bewildering array of offers that may not meet the goals of your organization€™s cost-control efforts, and more importantly, may not meet your business€™ data and voice needs. Most businesses will find that the sharing plans don€™t work for business use at all, unless they€™re very small. €œWe expect small/medium businesses to show more interest in shared data plans than large enterprises,€ an AT&T spokesperson told eWEEK. A spokesperson for Verizon Wireless told eWEEK much the same thing, €œThe program is not designed for large enterprise interests.€

So in a way, your business is left with a quandary. Your employees are showing up with shared data plans and in some cases they may have a lower monthly cost than what they have now. That€™s good, since it will save you money when they file their expenses. But depending on the plan the employee picks, it might be more expensive. So what do you do?

First, consider setting an upper limit for reimbursements for monthly phone charges. Then, unless an employee gets permission to charge more (for international travel, perhaps), you know what your fixed costs will be. If the employee€™s teen who€™s sharing the plan runs up overage charges because of music videos, that€™s not your problem.

Second, consider getting a business plan for your employee devices. Depending on the size of your company, you can negotiate rates that can produce substantial savings, and offer services that aren€™t available on those family plans, such as push-to-talk. Both Verizon Wireless and AT&T have a broad range of wireless plans aimed at business users, and you don€™t need to buy a shared data plan.

And you can look at other carriers if their coverage and their data plans work for you. Sprint has its line of ruggedized push-to-talk phones that are ideal for many industries, for example, and the company has a highly flexible range of voice and data plans. T-Mobile meanwhile has just launched an aggressive set of business rate plans that are overage free. In addition, T-Mobile is offering low fixed-rate pricing for foreign travelers, so they don€™t get those nasty roaming charges when they get back from a quick trip to Europe.

In other words, the new shared data plans offered by Verizon and AT&T might save you money when you reimburse your employees, but they might not. Depending on the needs of your business, you might want to start thinking of other options when you€™re supporting BYOD devices in your business.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazine's Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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