Although conferencing and collaboration tools are increasingly used to keep employees, customers and partners connected, these tools do not eliminate the need for face-to-face meetings. And in today’s global economy, meetings frequently involve international travel. A study by telecom industry advisory firm CCMI found that three-quarters of midsize and enterprise organizations had employees traveling internationally four or more times per year.

Overseas trips add significant international roaming costs to companies’ wireless bills. Almost a third of the organizations surveyed by CCMI indicated that they spend more than $1,000 per user per month on international roaming. Fifteen percent spend more than $2,500 per user per month, and 2 percent spend more than $3,500 per user per month. Single monthly bills ranging from $10,000 to $200,000 were reported.

Many of these costs were incurred due to a lack of understanding — some survey respondents indicated that they were either unaware of international roaming charges or had no clue they could be so high. Survey respondents also complained that Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) makes it difficult to track and budget for international roaming charges.

Because of mounting costs, many organizations have established policies either forbidding or strictly controlling the use of wireless devices overseas. Most survey respondents require that employees use free Wi-Fi hotspots, prepaid devices, local SIM cards or loaner phones when traveling abroad, although 22 percent simply curtail the use of wireless devices internationally.

These strategies are generally successful in reducing international roaming charges, but a number of other issues emerge, including:

  • Restricted communication with customers, business partners and other employees
  • Lack of access to information and resources
  • Customer service challenges
  • Risk of data loss associated with the use of unsecured public networks
  • Lost productivity and missed opportunities

Survey respondents were keenly aware of the problems related to international roaming — more than 80 percent reported at least one negative impact on their businesses.

A better solution is to utilize mobile Voice over IP (VoIP) to slash international roaming and toll charges and reduce the number of mobile minutes used. Mobile VoIP extends the corporate communications infrastructure to mobile devices, including employee-owned devices, enabling employees to make and receive calls and text messages over IP networks. Employees connect securely to the corporate network using company or public Wi-Fi or a mobile data network.

With mobile VoIP, employees get to use the same device they are accustomed to and keep their usual business phone number. They also gain access to all the communications features they have while in the office — four-digit extension dialing, for example, enables easy access to other employees without the need to dial international codes.

The huge wireless bills associated with international roaming are no longer exclusive to Fortune 1000 companies. Midsize and enterprise organizations are increasing global business travel and incurring the associated costs. As international travel becomes more prevalent, organizations can no longer rely on behavior-based policies to control international roaming charges. Mobile VoIP enables employees to stay in touch and productive while traveling abroad without breaking the wireless budget.

Contact IPC to learn how you can slash international roaming costs and cellular usage with ShoreTel’s enterprise mobility solution.

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