The Hidden Costs of Relying on Wi-Fi
Whether it’s downloading the newest version of Angry Birds, streaming Netflix movies, or just dealing with email, mobility managers know that any conversation about controlling expenses centers on wireless data consumption. Unsurprisingly, then, managers often urge employees to rely more heavily on local Wi-Fi networks and avoiding 3G and 4G wireless networks that can end up in big-time data overages at the end of the month.
However, while Wi-Fi can help keep employees within their data allowances, it can also present its own set of hidden expenses.
New devices bring new habits
One of the most important developments in wireless expense management is the rise of high-speed 4G networks. But those networks almost beg wireless users to binge on data downloads — leading to huge bills at the end of the month. Like we’ve said, that’s pushing users toward Wi-Fi networks as often as possible.
According to Cult of Mac columnist Ryan Faas, this is shifting the costs of enterprise mobility in an entirely new direction: While in the past mobile device management and security software was IT’s biggest expense. But the priority may soon become pumping up companies’ internal Wi-Fi networks.
With everyone being pushed on to the local Wi-Fi — 4G and 3G users alike — the end result will be “more [Wi-Fi connectivity] than most networks have seen in the past decade.” To ensure reliable service, then, companies could be forced to invest in bolstering their network. That could be as minor as adding a few more routers, or as major as a complete reconfiguration of the underlying architecture.
Network hardware must rise to the challenge
The aforementioned storyline is not just a hypothetical. In fact, market analysts are already charting a parallel surge in demand for networking hardware as Apple devices continue their inexorable march into the workplace.
With 11.8 million data-sucking iPads sold in the first quarter of 2012 alone, some are even suggesting that Apple’s impact on the enterprise could be enough to revive a networking equipment market that has languished. That’s not necessarily bad news for a company’s telecom expense manager, but it’s a development that needs to be recognized and addressed.
“Any company looking at implementing BYOD or scaling up its mobile purchasing needs to factor in the cost of supporting a larger contingent of Wi-Fi-using iOS devices — ideally before launching such a program,” Faas wrote. “While there isn’t a lot that can be done to cut the costs of additional Wi-Fi deployment, one option is to prioritize Wi-Fi for mobile devices that have no other connectivity, like an iPad, and encourage (or even require) workers to use wired Ethernet for notebooks wherever possible.”
Image used under Creative Commons by Flickr mightyohm.