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Supporting multinationals – are mobile operators really up to the job?

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Tech Panel Historically, the perception of mobile operators in the eye of large multinationals has been variable, to say the least. Ad hoc feedback from some multinational corporations (MNCs), along with situations where requirements were fairly one-dimensional, might have pointed to adequate service, for example for simple voice connectivity at a local level.

But as needs moved up (in terms of service requirements - remote access, mobilisation of data applications, security, voice and data roaming, on-site mobility, management of the device fleet and so on), and out (in geographical terms), the cracks began to show.

The ability of a mobile provider to deliver against these increasingly complex scenarios was sorely tested. Moreover, as pressure increased on large businesses to centralise provision of mobile communications, additional problems started to emerge.

Was the mobile operator able to deliver service (and consistently) across all locations? Could services be covered under single contracts? Would billing be transparent for all countries, and cost management easy to deal with?

Of course, the answer to these questions for many was an emphatic ‘no’ (if your experience was different, then do tell). The resultant outcome was a fragmented set of services, covered by multiple contracts and multiple operators, with enterprises often having little idea of exactly what they had, how it was being provisioned, how much it cost, or whether it was actually a good deal or not.

The shift in focus of user bodies such as the EVUA (European VPN Users Association) is testament to just how big an issue the area of mobile provisioning is becoming for large enterprises. The initial raison d'être of the EVUA was to try and secure better deals and terms for fixed VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), however, in recent years, they have brought the issue of mobile into the fold, and have increasingly focussed on the cost of mobile, and pressed for the introduction of global mobile contracts.

Of course, mobile operators have come a long way since the early days of their being, and some much further than others. Their ability to deal with the issues mentioned has undoubtedly improved, and, for the larger providers, the stories that we hear from them sound positive.

But this is only one side of the story, and as the old adage goes, you need both sides to make an informed decision. If you’re a large multinational (or even if you’re not, but you have a story you want to share), how does your mobile operator shape up in the various departments? Do you really know what you are paying for, or is it all as clear as mud? And are your contracts an easy read, or something you would rather not talk about?

Let us know in the comments area below. Better still, share your experiences in a more structured manner, through our mobile poll, so that we can really get to grips with just what is happening with mobile. ®

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