Cellular costs are for many companies their fastest growing, and most uncontrollable, expense. Everybody wants a Smartphone and sometimes they want two, a Blackberry for the office and an iPhone or Android for personal use. They quickly become your primary communication tool at home and the office and your voice calls, text and data charges add up very quickly, especially if you travel to the U.S.A. It’s no wonder Telus, Bell and Rogers view cellular as their primary growth business.
1. Offload Data to Wi-Fi
Program your Smartphone (howtogeek.com takes you through iPhone, iPad and Android settings) to automatically choose Wi-Fi when sending email or browsing the web. There are more Wi-Fi free sites then you might first imagine. Starbucks, coffee shops and airports are obvious, as are auto dealers and others with waiting rooms. Most business are now adding Wi-Fi to serve their own influx of Smartphones and iPads and many just add in free public access as a service to their visitors.
Not only is Wi-Fi less expensive than cellular data, Wi-Fi is often much faster and better quality. I predict that cellular video will eventually congest the cellular data networks and force people to use Wi-Fi, at least for video. For example, TSN now streams to any Smartphone and Apple’s iOS 5 makes it easier to share photos, videos, maps and web pages via Twitter on your iPhone, iPad or iPod.
It is critical to realize that Wi-Fi has inherent security risks for both users and businesses providing public access. Your corporate policy should be that anybody accessing your LAN via Wi-Fi must use a Virtual Private Network (VPN).
2. Offload Cellular Voice Calls to Cellular Data Network
Install a Softphone to change your cellular voice calls to cellular data calls. A Softphone uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) so you will also need a VoIP provider. This won’t be a problem if your office has already added VoIP to your phone system. They can even assign you a Direct Inward Dial (DID) number for incoming calls. Otherwise, there are many inexpensive VoIP providers.
The Softphone savings can be very significant. The cost per minute for a voice call made over the cellular network is more expensive than for the same amount of data sent over the cellular data network. Using VoIP is an even easy decision when you consider long distant charges do not apply to data!
Of course, a Softphone can use a public Wi-Fi network to achieve even more savings. Be careful though, congestion will totally ruin your VoIP call.
3. Know Your Costs and Demand the Best Deal
I recently reduced my cellular data costs from $1,024 per Gigabyte to $20. Unbelievable!
My son was travelling to the USA so I arranged the best possible plan. One gigabyte (GB) of data for $40. Highway robbery when ISP’s like Skyway West charge at most a tenth of that to zero when you consider our unlimited ADSL plans.
A few weeks later it was apparent I needed to add another GB. My son is a musician and had nearly used the first GB just by using his Smartphone as a GPS. His band played 14 venues in 24 days so there was a lot of “finding their way”.
My cellular provider offered a $10 roaming pass that allowed me to pay $1 per megabyte (MB). Are you sitting down?! There are 1024 megabytes in a gigabyte so $1/MB is $1,024/GB. I asked to pay $40, the same as the first GB, and was told $40 for the first GB was an exception. The best they could offer was $0.25/MB, or $256/GB.
I asked to speak to their supervisor to see if $256/GB was the best they could do. The cellular salesperson replied that I was speaking to a supervisor. I then asked to speak to their manager and was told I could book an appointment for a call back within the next four hours. Not satisfied, I asked for immediate satisfaction and was transferred to customer care where I made my case. They replied a short while later that the second GB would cost me $20, not $256 or $1,024. Good for them… but what if I hadn’t insisted on the best deal?
Please let me know if you have other ideas to reduce cellular costs. I omitted offloading cellular text messages to cellular data because I felt it was premature to write about: I expect Google’s Android will soon follow Apples’ iMessage that allows unlimited texts between iPads, iPhones, and iPods via Wi-Fi.