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Hey Big Spenders!

When the firm’s paying, quite a few people rack up cell-phone bills of more than $2,000 a month, according to a new study of European corporate mobile phone use released by IDC (see IDC Likes the Enterprise).

The study shows that people working for small to medium-sized enterprises are particularly prone to spending time (and money) on the phone. Some 2.2 percent of SME staff spend more than €2,000 ($2,260) a month, compared to just one percent for larger corporates, according to Rosie Secchi, IDC’s senior research analyst.

IDC's survey of 60 companies in 10 European countries found that the highest average per user corporate phone bill is to be found in Italy, followed by France and Germany.

Respondents said network availability and reliability were the most important features of cell phone services. This was followed by security of communications, flexible billing, pricing, and international coverage.

Data services were not considered to be as important as any of these features, and a mere 2.3 percent of the respondents thought WiFi hotspot access was worth having at present.

Though IDC is not revealing its most juicy data for free, Secchi did give the lowdown on which operators hold sway over corporate accounts in the U.K. market. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Vodafone UK (NYSE: VOD) has the lion's share with 45 percent, while O2 Ltd. (NYSE: OOM), spun off by British Telecommunications plc (BT) (NYSE: BTY; London: BTA) and formerly known as Cellnet, came in a very respectable second at 35 percent. Secchi says the BT legacy has helped O2 retain legacy customers it had from its Cellnet days, but that the operator is holding its own in the market and is particularly good at data services.

Trailing at a sorry third is Orange UK (London: OGE), which, despite a big marketing push into the corporate sector, only has 16 percent of the market, according to IDC's research. And T-Mobile (UK) is almost non-existent, with just 3 percent. T-Mobile is renowned for its poor coverage in the U.K., so its low business account penetration matches up with IDC's respondents' choice of network availability and reliability as their provider's most important service features.

— Ray Le Maistre, International Editor, Boardwatch

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