January 23, 2008 12:30 ET

Brightroam: Globetrotting Employees Inflate Corporate Cell Bills

Frequent travel to Europe, Asia and other international destinations impacts U.S. businesses up to $693.50 per employee per trip

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA--(Marketwire - Jan. 23, 2008) - A study commissioned by global cellular communications provider Brightroam shows that U.S. businesses pay a high cost in mobile phone roaming fees when employees travel internationally. The study, conducted by research company Harris Interactive Inc., reveals that international roaming fees can cost U.S. businesses $693.50 per trip for every global traveler - which is 12 times more than the average monthly wireless bill. Surprisingly, few U.S. businesses report plans to look for more affordable options.

"The study shows that 15 percent of employees make at least one international trip per year, which translates into costs of more than $950,000 annually per 10,000 employees. If you consider that many large businesses in the U.S. employ more than 30,000 employees, it is easy to see how roaming costs can take a big bite out of operating costs," said Jeff Wilson, General Manager, Brightroam. "While mobile phone carriers reap the benefits from roaming fees, these costs are bad news for U.S. enterprise businesses. As the economy prompts companies to focus on cost cutting initiatives, the benefits of a solution that delivers a telecom spend reduction are clear. We encourage businesses to look for more affordable options, such as Brightroam's global cellular service that requires a minimal upfront investment to reap immediate savings."

The majority of respondents (89 percent) agree that roaming costs are overpriced, but surprisingly, most (61 percent) also report no plans to switch international roaming providers in the coming year. The report revealed that some decision makers have limited visibility into their company's average roaming costs per month. Approximately one-third of the decision makers (from 34 percent to 44 percent depending on the company size) report that employees expense their roaming charges versus using a centralized billing system.

"These trends align with our findings. Wireless expenses are raging out of control for enterprises," said Joe Basili, Vice President of Research, Association of Telecom Management Professionals (AOTMP). Research by AOTMP has found that enterprises often do not have enough information on their telecom expenses to identify the best opportunities to reduce these charges. "Telecom expense management is an issue that is rising to the forefront for most organizations and is their number one priority for 2008."
To help U.S. businesses overcome these challenges, Brightroam introduces the Brightroam Enterprise Solution, a global cellular communications solution that delivers reliable cellular services in more than 160 countries and can significantly reduce international roaming fees by 50 to 80 percent. The Brightroam Enterprise Solution allows enterprise customers to simply replace their SIM card with the Brightroam SIM to enjoy high coverage and immediate savings. The flexible solution offers telecom managers a set of unified management tools to make the assignment of services, reporting, and support as simple and hassle-free as possible.

The study also uncovered other surprising business travel trends, including:

- When selecting a roaming solution, convenience, call quality and airtime rates are important.

- Europe (52 percent) leads Asia (16 percent) as the most popular destination for business travelers.

- Mobile devices are currently the most popular form of communication during business travel; four out of five companies report cell phones or smartphones are the primary communication tool used when they travel internationally and 57 percent of all calls made on a trip are made on these devices.

- Across the board, users are more likely to use a cell phone rather than a land line phone whether they are calling locally, to another country or back to the US. If not using their cell phone, three-fifths will use a calling card and half will use the hotel phone.

- Half of calls are international calls made back to the US. Two-fifths of business calls are local calls within the country traveled to. Almost half (46 percent) of companies subscribe to a domestic cell phone service which uses both GSM and CDMA. If a company subscribes to only one it would be GSM (45 percent).

About Brightroam

Brightroam provides global cellular communications to individuals and corporations looking to reduce their international roaming cost. The enterprise solutions includes a comprehensive cost management tool for telecom and financial managers, a portfolio of local SIM cards for Australia, China, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, India, Switzerland and the UK as well as global roaming SIMs that provide free incoming calls in over 40 countries and coverage in over 160 countries. Alliances with international cellular industry leaders such as O2 (UK); TIM Hellas (Greece); China Mobile; Swisscom; TIM (Italy) and Vodafone (Germany) allow Brightroam to deliver reliable cellular communications, backed by 24/7 customer support, with a unique contract free monthly billing rate plan. Brightroam is a division of Roadpost Inc.

This Brightroam survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Roadpost Inc. (between November 28th and December 27th, 2007) among 1,181 respondents in total including 356 business travelers and 212 telecom decision makers and 618 leisure travelers, ages 19-65. Results were weighted for Business and Leisure travelers as needed for education, age, gender, race/ethnicity, region, and household income to bring them in line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online. Decision-makers were weighted as needed based on the number of employees in their companies to bring them in line with their actual proportions among companies in the US.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to be invited to participate in the Harris Interactive online research panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

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