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Municipality Mobility Challenges”

Over the past several months, we have received many questions regarding a variety of Smartphone issues faced by Municipalities. This article provides a summary of the most common questions we have received and our responses to those questions.

Carrier Negotiations

Question: Why do I need to enter into mobile carrier negotiations for my Smartphones when I can simply leverage the Province of Ontario’s carrier rates?

Response: Municipalities have a highly concentrated usage within their own Region which differs from the usage patterns of a Provincial Government employees. You need to understand your usage patterns and compare them to the Government rate plans before you make this decision. You may be able to negotiate features such as unlimited inbound calling, larger data packages and trade-in credits for your existing devices. These negotiations could reduce your expenses significantly. However, to negotiate effectively, you must know your mobile usage and cost patterns and have market insight before making the right choice for your tax payers.

STT has the expertise to help you understand your usage and cost patterns so that you can effectively negotiate with your mobile carrier. Click here to learn about our services.

Real-time Alerts to Prevent Over Usage Charges

Question: I have been hearing a lot of buzz about real-time alerts. Will real-time alerts really save money so my users do not exceed their mobile rateplan?

Response: The vast majority of Municipal users do not exceed their plan; in fact most do not even come close. In our experience, real-time alerts work best in organizations that have significant exposure to roaming usage. Since Municipalities have very limited roaming usage, this solution may not be cost effective.

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

Question: Is everyone going BYOD? I heard it can save IT a lot of money.

Response: This topic is receiving significant attention. Our research suggests that BYOD is mostly promoted by organizations that stand to gain the most from its implementation such as Mobile Device Management (MDM) players and consultants. These organizations state that BYOD largely reduces or removes IT involvement. However, studies have shown that BYOD increases overall costs anywhere from 15% to 33% because financial responsibility of the device is transferred from the organization (corporation, municipality, etc.) that has bargaining power to the individual user who pays retail prices.

In contrast to BYOD, we are seeing a trend towards “Choose Your Own Device” (CYOD) in which the device is owned by the organization but is chosen by the employee. CYOD addresses the needs of both the organization and the employee because the former has full control over the device while the latter is allowed to use her preferred device type. Full control of the devices allows the organization to apply its security, backup and HR policies to the device while allowing the employee to make personal use of the device within certain limits. In BYOD, the organization has no control over the device because it is owned by the employee. Thus, BYOD is driven by individual user preference and choice.

BYOD is positioned as the "Easy Button" approach to telecom management by a number of “underground” supporters. From our experience and expertise in the telecom industry, we believe that this is not the case. If your organization is considering a BYOD policy or is in the process of implementing such a policy, then the points below should be taken into consideration. For further details on BYOD, please see our article, Points to Consider Before Implementing a "Bring Your Own Device" policy.

  • How do you determine that an employee is delinquent on his wireless account if you do not have access to the account invoice. Furthermore, if you can determine payment issues, how do you handle them?
  • How do you ensure that the usage and costs associated with a wireless device are within acceptable limits?
  • How do you manage malicious calls from or to an employee when you do not have access to the call record data?
  • How do you manage the enforcement of certain device features such as browsing or application installations?

Unified Communications Collaboration (UCC)

Question: What does UCC have to do with my Smartphone selection?

Response: UCC allows an end user to make and receive landline phone calls using her mobile device. Some of the benefits of UCC are as follows.

  • Modern IP landline telephones can range from $300 to $1,200 per unit and these units represent a major portion of the cost of a telephone system. With UCC, fewer landline telephones are required because mobile devices can be used to make landline phone calls. This reduction in landline telephones may lead to cost savings.
  • Mobile device traffic utilizes the organization's PBX instead of the mobile carrier's network. Using the PBX may lead to lower charges on long distance calls because these calls are generally charged at a lower rate on a PBX. Furthermore, any traffic that utilizes a PBX can be logged via the PBX's call detail record (CDR) feature. Such logging allows the organization to better manage its telecom policies.
  • UCC can provide "Single Number Reach" which means that an employee can be contacted on all her devices such as a mobile or landline telephone with one telephone number.

Despite the benefits of UCC, there are technical issues that must be considered. Most importantly, certain mobile telephone manufactures, models or software releases do not support UCC. Thus, Municipalities that are considering UCC or are in the process of implementing it, may wish to use CYOD with a limited number of mobile telephone devices that that do support UCC.

For further details on UCC, please see our articles, Unified Communications Collaboration in the Enterprise and Reasons for Choosing Unified Communications Collaboration

STT Can Help You Meet Your Municipality Mobility Challenges

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