Study: Average company wastes $100,000 a year on unnecessary cellular charges

As user mobility becomes more important, cellular phones are taking up a bigger chunk of companies’ budgets. And, according to a new study, a lot of that money is being wasted. 

The average business spends thousands of dollars in unnecessary wireless costs because they aren’t choosing the best wireless plans, and employees aren’t being caught for their unauthorized personal use of company smartphones.

That’s the word from a recent study of 450 companies’ mobile spending conducted by enterprise mobility management vendor Visage. The companies studied ranged in size from 35 to 350,000 employees, so the problems affect businesses of all types.

The average company spends about $850,000 on their wireless bills, or $1,200 per employee, according to the study.

Of that total, Visage estimates that $107,352 on average is wasted on unnecessary spending. Where is all of that going? Businesses are spending a lot of extra money because users are exceeding their monthly voice, data and texting plans, either because companies aren’t planning properly or users are misusing their wireless privileges and not getting caught.

According to Visage’s study, each year, companies spend an average of:

  1. $14,568 for going over allotted text messaging plans
  2. $13,056 on long distance charges
  3. $9,444 for going over the number of minutes in their voice plans
  4. $8,752 for going over mobile data plan limits, and
  5. $3,708 on 411 and Directory Assistance calls.

Companies are also spending a lot of money because users are using their work phones for personal downloads. For example, many employees download customized ringtones on their company’s dime, Visage says. Also, the study found a surprising number of text messaging services that cost a monthly fee, such as daily horoscopes and even adult-oriented texting services, appearing on bills paid by companies.

Whether companies issue mobile devices to employees or allow users to bring their own devices, they must decide how they’re going to pay for wireless service. It helps to be clear about what will and won’t be paid for and to monitor employees’ mobile usage to make sure the company isn’t paying for more than the allowed amount of personal use.

When employees use their own mobile devices, many companies require users to foot the bill themselves, or offer a flat monthly stipend, based on how much the device will actually be used for work.

And with company-issued devices, experts recommend taking a tough stance on what will be paid. Companies should have clear caps on voice, data and texting usage, as well as policies against unnecessary roaming and long distance use, said Chris Smithee, Network Security Manager at Lancope, Inc., in a presentation at the recent Interop IT conference in Las Vegas. When possible, companies should enable alerts to be sent to users when they’re approaching those caps.