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The Wireless Data Roaming Quagmire

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Articles in Business Technology

The wireless data roaming quagmire reflects the fragmented nature of today's wireless service and technologies and the necessity for successful unified communications solutions. IT departments in multinational companies might find themselves patching together dissimilar services, managing multiple contracts, and still not satisfying their road warriors.

Inconsistencies in mobile data technologies in the U.S. and elsewhere and unpredictable pricing have prevented easy access to mobile data, hindering unified business communications. Depending on where the user is, their access options could include dial-up, Wi-Fi, DSL cable modem, Ethernet, cellular data, satellite and, eventually, WiMAX. The software client displays the available access options to the user, who selects the desired one.

Providers also generally offer unified settlement and billing, so customers have one bill, one pricing plan and one user experience. iPass's DePaoli said it is typical for its subscribers to use EV-DO service in the U.S. and Wi-Fi in other regions, like Hexion does, but that iPass is at least making some progress with international cellular data.

When it comes to cellular data, most users don't know what they are being charged when they roam out of their home countries, which can result in surprising charges at the end of the month. Pricing terms are generally buried deep within their companies' corporate contracts. This makes it critical to analyze a communications strategy.

Striking individual deals with various mobile access service providers around the world could yield lower per-minute or per-kilobyte costs. But depending on how many providers are involved, this option might mean jumping over dollars to pick up pennies.

Among the various types of providers offering wireless access and other managed services that help streamline global mobility:

  • Mobile and remote access data service aggregators- offer remote and mobile access options exclusively, often with corresponding security software and services
  • Traditional managed network service providers- currently have about two-thirds of the overall remote data access market. These providers have their own infrastructures worldwide as well as some partnerships to fill in the gaps
  • Outsourcing and professional services companies
  • Virtual network operators (VNOs)- they don't own networks, they package up mobile and remote access services from carriers and other aggregators and combine them with backbone WAN services that they resell from WAN service providers

Enterprises have many options for purchasing packages of mobile and remote data access services that will ease administrative and operational complexity and usually result in volume-based reductions in monthly service charges.

Ajay Waghray Ajay Waghray
CIO, Verizon Wireless

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