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Five Ways to Save (or Make) Money on Wireless

Wireless services remain one of the fastest growing and most poorly managed elements in the telecommunications mix; anyone with a modicum of business acumen will undoubtedly sense a relationship between those two attributes. Given the growing importance of mobility and the dependence on wireless services to provide it, it is clear that this is an area that we need to bring under better management control.

One of the “can you top this” categories at the recent Fall Conference of the Society of Telecommunications Consultants (STC) in Reno was the quest for the highest monthly cellular bill. Ryan Larsen of Urban-Technology Group thought he had it pegged with an executive who ran up a $6,500 tab on a one week overseas trip (not surprisingly, all potential entries involved international cellular). However, telecom attorney Martha Buyer took the prize with the story of a $45,000 monthly cellular bill. Someone’s kid took his not-so-smartphone on an overseas trip, and the kid spent most of his time watching streaming videos. While this sort of news might be met with great delight by the cellular carriers, I can assure you that your CFO isn’t laughing.

As the percentage of wireless in the network services mix is growing exponentially, we can anticipate that these problems (and the associated waste) will continue to grow in the coming years. Before this situation gets too far out of hand, here are five recommendations to begin getting your wireless environment under control.


It’s time to end the foolish management practice of having employee-owned handsets and reimbursing for charges through expense vouchers. Most large organizations have taken this step, though there are still plenty of loose cannons out there. The surveys on this indicate that somewhere around 50% of business cell phones are user owned and company reimbursed. From my experience, virtually all of those are in smaller businesses and the majority of large users have moved to company-paid contracts.

Making the cell phone a company-owned item is important for financial control, but it is also critically important for security. While I have heard other opinions on this matter, as far as I’m concerned, the only way to have adequate security on mobile devices is for the company to own them, have clear policies regarding their use, the ability to ensure that those policies are being followed, and real penalties for non-compliance. That type of meaningful mobility policy will require a commitment from the top; we’ll have more on mobile policies in a moment.

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