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How much does 'Free Wi-Fi' cost your business?

Andy Patrizio | Oct. 26, 2016
Wi-Fi is often difficult to use, which kills productivity on the road, and it costs businesses nearly $3 billion a year.

The LTE alternative

There is the alternative to Wi-Fi, cellular LTE, but White notes that LTE has data caps, which will be easily reached by a heavy mobile user, and then you find yourself paying for overages, again incurring expenses.

"Maybe they will use LTE until get an overage charge, while others will take the overage and bill it to expenses. That's inefficient because the price goes out of kilter quickly. If you're going to be on the laptop seven or eight hours, you're going to blow the caps. That's what they are designed for," says White.

Jack Gold, president of J.Gold Associates, a mobile consultancy, notes that cheaper hotels often have free Wi-Fi while the high-end ones charge $10 to $12 for Wi-Fi. The question is, is that good enough to get work done? Probably not.

"In this country if you travel often, you are far better off getting a 4G modem for your device and using it for your day-to-day use," says Gold. "Then you not only avoid Wi-Fi fees but you can use it anywhere you can get a signal."

Gold's group did a study that looked at productivity gains from 4G and the cost of spending money on 4G vs. Wi-Fi. It found that the more you need wireless connectivity the better to go with 4G. "If you are a constant traveler, then it makes sense to do that because the productivity improvements you gain are much greater than the cost," he says.

The bottom line is you have to look at what each user is doing, says Gold. "You have to know what people are doing to decide if it's cost effective. If you spend only 5 percent of the time on the road then it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of money. If you travel 50 percent of the time then it’s worth the money because time is valuable. I think that's the way to look at it," he says.


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