Invisible Coop Downside of Mobile Data Usage

When wireless carriers transitioned their billing models from voice pooling to data pooling, consumers were so distracted by the shiny object of ‘free’ unlimited voice minutes it didn’t occur to them that it may have been a stealth ploy to grow revenue at their expense. Carriers are motivated to incent off-peak usage because it presents a great opportunity to leverage an infrastructure sunk cost investment to meet peak usage demands. When voice was the primary cost measure we became accustomed to the idea that voice usage in off-peak hours was free. While nothing is ever truly free, it appeared to be so because there was no punitive invoice impact for excessive off-peak usage.

Now that all consumption is measured as data, you may have noticed that there are no off-peak data usage breaks. The reason behind this is because carriers have successfully orchestrated the best of all possible worlds where consumers are charged for their off-peak data consumption while delivering high margins to the carriers. Assisted by the notion that there are more ‘data usage traps’ for consumers to fall into after business hours, simply put, measured data has become a lucrative revenue source for the carriers. Now, here is the brilliant coup the carriers have achieved – it is becoming more common for off-peak data usage to exceed peak data usage. In other words, the type of data-intensive application usage like streaming video is more associated with an employee’s downtime than something that would be work related. Below is a typical example where off-peak usage represents over 60% of total data usage. Not surprisingly, most cooperatives are inadvertently funding this off-peak behavior of their employees.


Too often companies accept the steady increase of wireless invoices as just a ‘cost of doing business’. After all, with increasing field force automation, even if the wireless cost is rapidly rising it is frequently justified by other offsetting efficiencies. The truth is data costs don’t necessarily need to grow if they are effectively monitored and managed. Don’t let runaway personal usage lurk undetected beneath the rising tide of wireless data expense growth. With policies, discipline and the right reporting capabilities, electric cooperatives like yours can be successful in limiting the growth in wireless expense while still pursuing appropriate field force automation initiatives.

Now may be the time to initiate a careful review of data usage in your company.  MobilSense has recently announced MobilAlertDIY™, a self-service, simple assessment which can calculate your cooperative’s best case cost-per-device compared to your current cost-per device by providing a quick checkpoint to identify if you have an off-peak or non-business data usage issue.  Click the link below to learn how you are doing with off-peak or non-business data usage

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