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Businesses Gain From Internet Fast Lanes

Don't socialize the Internet; embrace pay-to-play.

to be billed for specific work-related traffic. For a salesperson, for example, a company would determine which applications he needs to get work done, such as email and WebEx for collaboration and Salesforce for customer relationship management. The carrier would bill the company directly for all traffic to these applications, while the employee would be responsible for all other data usage traffic.

The company could also choose to pay for quicker access to applications that require a fast connection. WebEx, for instance, needs low latency to transmit voice and video without interruption. Whenever the salesperson uses WebEx, the company would pay for priority access. Salesforce and email are asynchronous, so the company could instruct carriers to queue the traffic whenever the network isn't congested. If there's a 20-second delay with email delivery or a Salesforce update, the effect is negligible.

This arrangement would benefit everyone involved. Businesses would only pay for the traffic they care about, and they could choose to pay a premium for traffic to specific applications; employees, meanwhile, could be productive even if they're stranded in a congested airport. This type of access, segmented by application, is possible on LTE networks, although no wireless carriers currently offer it. I expect that to change by early next year, at the latest.

2. Streamlined mobility management
A related, and more important, benefit is that optional priority access would make mobility management easier. Why? Because mobile device management would be unnecessary, at least from an expense perspective. In a BYOD environment, companies are agnostic about which devices employees use to get work done. If companies only pay for traffic to work-related applications, managers no longer need to police mobile device usage, a big headache for IT and finance staff who have other responsibilities. (They'd still need to secure access to corporate data from those personal devices.)

Company vehicle programs are a good analogy. Instead of leasing a car for all mobile employees (and worrying about how they use it), many companies now reimburse employees who use their personal vehicles for mileage. The arrangement makes everybody's lives easier. The company leases fewer vehicles for employees and no longer worries whether they use it for personal errands. Employees use their personal vehicles however they prefer and are reimbursed for work-related expenses. The same logic applies to the wireless devices employees use at work. With segmented packaging, employees pay for personal data usage, and the company pays for work-related traffic to applications such as corporate email, WebEx, or Salesforce. Employees can stream Netflix movies all day, if they choose, and the company isn't hit with data overage charges.

Businesses today are a hybrid of BYOD and company-paid mobility, so there will always be employees who are provided a device and a mobile plan. But fast-lane access to the wireless network would ease the management burden that mobility managers face, and allow them to give every employee the access she needs to work while on the go. That's a small price to pay for increased productivity.

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