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Coping with International Charges

Finally, Carriers are Providing Options

International wireless usage charges are one of the biggest and most frequent surprises on a company invoice. Whether the charges are incurred by one rogue employee on vacation or from legitimate wireless travel usage, when left unmanaged, international charges can dominate a company’s wireless costs. Case in point, recently a user managed to generate over $24,000 in international data overage charges – a situation that could have been controlled and substantially minimized if proactive action had been taken. Historically there have been no simple answers to address international voice charges but there are some emerging bundle options with text and data that begin to address this need. For some time, however, there have been ways to mitigate messaging and data overage charges.

There are two ways in which international usage generates unnecessary charges. First, the most obvious and painful accrue from individuals using international voice, messaging, or data while roaming on pay-as-you-go rates. The second often arises from overreaction to overage surprises, whereby administrators permanently apply international add-on features to users who frequently travel. While these charges are typically lower than an overage surprise, the charge continues to accrue month after month whether the individual is travelling or not. A $120 international data option left on a device during those times when it is not needed will more than double the monthly cost of that device. Fortunately there are solutions and methodologies to limit international charges on your invoice.

Partial Month International Features – Some U.S. carriers do not force international data and messaging plans to span an entire bill cycle, providing the flexibility of turning the plan on and off for shorter cycles. When using only partial month features, make sure you factor in the prorated feature amount – 3 days in a month will provide only 1/10th of the indicated units included. Carriers also permit the ability to assign the option retroactively as long as the bill cycle has not lapsed. If you received notification to add a feature after the traveler has left the country, you can back-date the effective start date to cover any use already incurred, an unusually generous carrier consideration.

Capping the Option Time Period – Leaving international features enabled for employees who travel less often can get expensive. Be sure to take advantage of new carrier capabilities by presetting international end-of-feature dates. If your Mobility Management Solution does not scan for unused features, be sure to list an end-of-feature date when turning on international features through the carrier portals.

Provisioning Work Flow – A Best-in-Class approach to managing international feature additions and removals is providing the end user with the ability to request changes via an online ordering portal. Because end users best know their travel schedule, providing the opportunity to submit requests themselves is the most efficient approach. Your provisioning system should support a start and end date for travel schedules, allowing travelers to keep the cost of the feature to a minimum.