Think Unlimited Data Plans Are Best for Corporate Cellular? Think again

Apr 28, 2021

Companies are often drawn to unlimited data plans because they offer predictable billing and appear easier to manage. There’s just one problem, and it’s a significant one: “Unlimited data” is a misnomer. The reality is in the fine print.

Even with unlimited plans, carriers curb usage by throttling down transmission speeds when a user hits a monthly data threshold. Reaching those thresholds is easy to do, and it happens more often than users may realize.

Two of the activities that incur data throttling most frequently are:

  • Using the phone as a hotspot – That’s a primary area where carriers throttle data transmission.
  • Streaming – Carriers can deprioritize high-bandwidth data, such as streaming, whether you’ve hit your threshold or not.

Data Throttling Often Lacks Transparency

In 2019, Northeastern University and University of Massachusetts Amherst researchers studied carriers’ and Wi-Fi providers’ throttling of video content. Their practices were neither transparent nor consistent, the researchers found, and sometimes gave preferential treatment to certain content providers.

Also, thresholds vary by plan, device, and type of data. One carrier might throttle after 22GB, whereas another pumps the brakes after 15GB (and if you read the fine print, technically they can throttle you at any time). The impact on performance can be considerable — potentially cutting 4G speeds by half or more. These variations make it hard to ensure employees have the performance they need, especially when organizations manage many devices.

All too often, companies sign on for unlimited data because they believe it equates to unlimited performance. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.

Ongoing Management Delivers the Best Cellular Outcomes

Unlimited plans, promising a one-size-fits-all approach, may seem easier to manage. A better strategy is to analyze your company’s needs and develop a plan that’s right-sized: one that optimizes cost and performance while supporting your business objectives.

Ideally, companies should:

  • Analyze cellular services holistically
  • Understand big-picture usage and trends
  • Continuously monitor and adapt service for each line and device

In reality, this work is time-consuming, and most companies lack the resources to do it. They’re often too busy handling asset management, billing, troubleshooting, and other tasks associated with cellular service.

Cellular Managed Services Protects Performance

Companies also may choose an unlimited data plan because they believe it will save money. In reality, they could achieve better ROI by spending those funds on a managed service, eliminating the performance issues associated with unlimited data plans — at a lower cost.

A managed services provider (MSP) will start by analyzing the company’s usage to recommend the right plan for its needs and goals. From there, the MSP deploys specialized tools to monitor data usage, receive alerts when a device is approaching the throttle threshold, and make back-end adjustments to prevent data throttling.

Users get the performance they need, and the company continues to operate as it always did. Now, employees who once had to manage cellular services can focus on more strategic, business-enhancing activities.

Ensure Cellular Plans Support Business Needs

Optimal cellular service is essential for employees in the field — the difference between getting the job done and struggling to complete a critical task. Construction job sites, for example, often power workers’ productivity with Wi-Fi routers onsite. When these devices are throttled, it can slow down work across the entire project.

In the past year, businesses have become even more reliant on employees’ connectivity, especially at home. When high-speed networking is unavailable, remote workers often use their smartphones as mobile hotspots.

Even after the pandemic, employees will have plenty of reasons to turn to mobile hotspots:

  • Home internet outages
  • Remote locations
  • Work in transit and at facilities lacking robust connectivity

When workers encounter slow speeds, it’s frustrating for them and detrimental to the business. Increasingly, the smartphone facilitates numerous aspects of employees’ work, whether providing access to company applications, supporting remote collaboration, or facilitating internet access.

As a result, companies that can’t count on fast, consistent data streaming are at a competitive disadvantage.

Future-Proof Your Cellular Strategy

Finally, the expansion of 5G, with its higher data rates and lower latency, is poised to revamp the mobility market.

Worldwide, there will be more than three connected devices for each person on the planet by 2023, according to Cisco’s research. Of those, smartphones are the second-fastest-growing device category, behind Internet of Things devices.

Faster speed, better coverage, and increasing adoption mean new opportunities for companies with a well-managed cellular strategy — one that focuses less on unlimited data and more on unlimited potential.

Want to learn more saving on your corporate cellular bills? Download our free eBook, How to Stop Wasting Time and Money on Corporate Cellular.

LINQ Tech Team

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