The direct and indirect costs of mobile roaming, pay-on-demand Wi-Fi and free Wi-Fi are costing business in Europe and North America billions - at least £2.19bn a year according to findings by iPass Inc.

These costs result from mobile professionals’ insatiable need for connectivity and growing data consumption; mobile professionals in 2016 are estimated to be using on average 6GB of data per month when travelling and working “on the go.”

Patricia Hume, chief commercial officer of iPass commented: “Connectivity has never been more important. Whether mobile professionals are trying to be productive by day or connect to friends and family by night, there is a tangible need to be connected all the time,”

Hume continues: “The direct and indirect costs of keeping mobile professionals connected are more than many businesses realize, highlighting the need for businesses to have greater visibility into their employees’ data usage. Cost-effective and secure connectivity is paramount, yet free Wi-Fi does not provide the simplicity and convenience that today’s mobile professionals require.”

The last 12 months has seen the continued growth of ‘free’ Wi-Fi. However, for many businesses, the term remains misleading. Free Wi-Fi connections are often slow, which prevent business applications from working properly, while also restricting the number of devices that can connect. In fact, employees waste more time on slow technology than they spend on holiday.

If you add this to the time mobile professionals spend seeking out and signing up to free Wi-Fi services, the negative impact on productivity soon adds up. The report suggests that the loss in productivity from free Wi-Fi can cost businesses between £578 and £874 per mobile professional each month, dependent on their location and destination.

The cost of connectivity varies for mobile professionals across both Europe and North America depending on the methods they use.

When connecting predominantly via mobile, North American mobile professionals travelling internationally incur costs of £155 - £1,100 per month. French mobile professionals were the most negatively impacted when travelling outside of Europe, incurring costs of £1,034 - £1,553 per month. In comparison, costs for UK mobile professionals were £117 - £848 per month, and costs for German mobile professionals were £264 - £936.

In comparison, when predominantly using mobile services within Europe, it would cost UK mobile professionals between £76 - £139 per month. In France and Germany, the costs were £64 – £262 and £92 - £130, respectively.

When it came to purchasing Wi-Fi on demand, UK mobile professionals incurred the greatest costs, using such services both inside (£143) and outside of Europe (£148) each month. For French mobile professionals, the costs were £115 and £135 each month; for German mobile professionals, it was £121 and £128 each month. Overall, North American mobile professionals fared better: it cost them £112 to use Wi-Fi on demand domestically and £112 outside the US each month.

Peter White, principal analyst and founder, Rethink Technology Research said: “Although the costs of cellular roaming have been reduced, particularly in Europe, they still remain substantial when the amount of data used by a mobile professional is taken into account. Furthermore, piecemeal payment for Wi-Fi becomes expensive very quickly, and critically fails to provide the simplicity and convenience that users crave. Business leaders need to understand the value of providing secure, reliable and cost-effective connectivity. This means ensuring their mobile workforce is connected via the right means, at any given time or location.”