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Planning and adapting for a Personally Enabled 5G world

Planning and Adapting for a Personally Enabled 5G World

Matt Atkinson runs Mobliciti’s Managed Mobile Network & Device team and has over 20 years’ experience in the telecoms market. Matt spoke at VIEW 2019 about the current trends and challenges within the world of mobile, why businesses might be smart to adopt a ‘Shared Liability’ model, and how to plan for 5G.

Current Trends and Challenges

Mobile and flexible working – There’s a trend towards mobile working in the UK and it has been in the top 5 countries globally that support mobile working for the last 20 years.

Free Wi-Fi is your enterprise connectivity – despite large amounts of corporate budget being allocated to Wi-Fi and fibre within work buildings, employees are increasingly working away from the office in places such as coffee shops, which are convenient for their needs.

Mobile data is growing exponentially – data consumption has trebled every 2-3 years in the 4G world. When the entire 4G infrastructure is upgraded to enable 5G, data consumption will increase.

Corporate telephony is just another application – Telephony is soon going to become merely another app on a mobile device,

Increasing mobile device costs – The vast majority of organisations in professional services use Apple or high-end Samsung devices, meaning that entry-level devices will start from £350-400, whilst a top-level device could put companies out of pocket by over £1000.

Growing levels of personal mobile usage – 80% of the average corporate mobile data bill is from personal use, not business use.

Business & IT cost reduction pressures – organisations are finding that their budgets are getting squeezed, meaning that IT departments must do more with fewer resources.

Whilst none of these trends and challenges might be new, they’re all converging at the same time, putting pressure on IT.

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Apple Devices

iPhone 4
Apple iPhone 11 Pro smartphone

The cost of the iPhone has been steadily increasing since Apple’s mobile devices first began gaining traction. When the iPhone 4 was first released in 2010, the 16Gb model could be purchased for £499, whilst the 32Gb model would set users back £599. The most common phone that is ordered from Mobliciti in 2019 is the iPhone 8, whilst demand is picking up substantially for the iPhone 11. The iPhone 11 Pro is being touted as the premium Apple iPhone and starts from £1049, with the most expensive model reaching £1499.

Whilst it is highly likely that Apple will produce a cost-effective basic mobile phone soon to placate people, the reality is that the cost of these devices is steadily increasing. This in turn introduces important questions to ask such as “is my business really benefitting from three cameras – the Ultra Wide, the Wide, and the Telephoto camera lenses?” “Is my business benefitting from 512Gb of storage space for movie downloads?” “Do we benefit from the ability to choose Midnight Green as a colour?”

The reality is that users want this technology, but the cost of shelling out for the latest model of phone is something that should be carefully examined.



If everyone wants a £1000+ phone, and also wants an unlimited data plan, who pays for it? Should it be the company, the user, or is there a middle-ground that can be found?

On one-side, supplying users with brand-new, top-of-the-range phones can improve productivity and increase collaboration, overall enabling employees. However, when a business pays the full cost, device and network costs skyrocket; there are challenges with data management, roaming, decisions that must be made over personal use, device and data security. Security is a key player in mobile deployment as users leave the traditional security perimeter, taking their phone which has corporate data on it out into the unknown. Educating users on dangers such as phishing and accessing unknown Wi-Fi should be a shared responsibility. This environment of shared responsibility, where the user contributes and the business contributes, is a system that can be carried over for the device and network.

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Corporate-liable vs BYOD?

Companies trying to find a balance between employee and corporate devices should be asking the following questions:

  • Who pays for the growing cost of 4G/5G mobile devices and data usage?
  • Should businesses continue to focus on holding back data and ‘restricting’ personal usage?
  • Can businesses and employees benefit from a shared approach to mobile costs?
  • Should businesses rely on ‘controlling’ devices or look at shared ‘responsibilities’ for mobile data
  • Does it make more sense for users to have more than one iPhone and an “unlimited” data plan?

Corporate-liable – the business pays for everything and is responsible for everything

BYOD – Many organisations are still struggling with BYOD, as they attempt to work out policies, finding the line between corporate control and enabling personal usage and whether employees should be given money to contribute towards the device.  

Corporate-liable models are still common within the enterprise, but there is movement beginning towards shared liability model – wherein business contribute a certain baseline amount towards a device, but if the user wants a premium model then they must partially contribute towards the cost of this more expensive device. This same model applies to data usage – IT could allocate a 2-3Gb data allowance per person. If a user wants a personalised tariff of 20Gb then they pay the difference. An excess can also be applied to repairs and losses.

Shared Liability Concept:

When analysing corporate bills, 80% of users are typically using within their allocated data allowance. However, the remaining 20% are using excessive amounts of data. Analysis of corporate data usage has uncovered individual users consuming 400Gb of data a month. Often when shared data plans are purchased, details such as this get lost. Instead, introduce an agreed fair data usage allowance per month that will be beneficial to the business. The user then has the option to upgrade their data usage if they feel necessary, paying the difference.

Using this model, the business retains ownership of the device and manages this process through payroll or expenses, with the user being given the option to buy the device, either at refresh time 2-3 years later, or if they leave the business.

If a user independently went to a network or seller to purchase an iPhone 11 without an upfront cost, they would currently be looking at an average monthly cost of £40-£50. However, through the example of the Shared Liability model above, they would be able to pay just £18 to access the same device.

This model limits costs for the business, whilst the user can also choose whether they want to increase their cost slightly for a newer model of phone or an increased data package.



The exponential growth of mobile data

Mobile data usage continues to treble approximately every 3 years

Normally, upon reviewing such charts a few years down the line, they usually reveal that expectations and claims were hugely exaggerated. The opposite is true with mobile data growth, which is tracking ahead of projections. Global Mobile Traffic is on track to consume 28 exabytes in 2019 (1 billion gigabytes), but this is projected to reach 77 exabytes in just three years.

So, what does this actually mean? This data increase will mean that, within three years, the average smartphone user will be using between 20-30Gb worth of data every month. As a result, businesses who are currently working with a data pool of around 1-2Gb of data per user per month need to rethink their strategy, or risk being caught out.

5G is the main driver in anticipated data growth but is still five years away from reaching its full potential. 2019 has seen 5G is reaching the peak of its ‘hype cycle’, as people speculate about everything they’ll be able to achieve using 5G-enabled technology. Currently, however, the underlying infrastructure of 5G networks is still in the process of being enabled. 

The challenge when it comes to 5G in the enterprise and indeed in the wider environment will be the control and management of mobile data. A TV boxset could be downloaded onto a mobile device in mere seconds – convenient for the user but potentially incredibly costly to the business unless suitable plans are in place to address this type of usage.

Therefore one real challenge for businesses is whether they retain the approach of locking down devices down, disabling the use of personal apps and personal use of corporate data, or whether they embrace these changes and investigate how to blend two worlds; the personal and business use of a phone in such a way that both parties win from it. The starting point when it comes to 5G challenges will surround mobile devices.

There are a number of areas which businesses need to consider when planning for 5G:

The 5G business case

5G Device & Network Benefits – Is it worth investing in 5G devices, 5G networks and larger data plans? Whilst many businesses may say no currently, users will want to push towards 5G faster, and if usage and tariffs are mismatched then business costs will increase significantly.

Funding Models – How will businesses fund 5G devices and enablement going forward?

Procurement Impact – 5G data consumption means that businesses must rethink their approach to personal use of mobile data and associated costs, as traditional “corporate” deals will be costly in the future.

Budget Reallocation – A lot of traditional IT technology is no longer being used as employees rely more and more on their mobile devices, meaning this money is just going to waste (for example desk phones). Reallocating that budget into mobile working, flexible working, and enabling better security will see productivity returns.

Planning For 5G and ‘Personally Enabled’ Mobile

Evaluate your current position – Examine the current state of your mobile estate, investigating why certain people are using so much data, and whether all the services you’re paying for are being used. Mobliciti can offer a free health check which will help to identify current wastage and excess costs
Revisit (or start creating your strategy) for mobile data security in a 5G world – Businesses must take responsibility for educating users on mobile security or risk being stung
Challenge the need for corporate telephony – This currently takes up a large amount of budget; by releasing it, your journey to mobile working and 5G could possibly be funded.
Review BYOD, shared liability, corporate liability – Find the right fit model for your business
Consider how mobile-first strategy is going to impact your support teams and the way that you support your business

How Can We Help?

Mobliciti are the experts in mobile. Our specialist team can work alongside you to identify the challenges facing your business in the 2020s; taking care of mobile network administration and security, managing mobile costs & usage, negotiating market leading contracts, supporting business users with their mobile devices, and enabling businesses in a 5G world.

We help customers to quickly free up their in-house IT teams and budgets, so they can focus on IT transformation and their core business. To find out more, get in touch.