Choosing a business mobile phone network

by Colin Bryant, TelecomsAdvice

The world of mobile communications is a confusing one - what exactly should you look for when you choose a mobile phone network?  Listed below are some of the main things you should consider.

Consult a specialist business mobile phone dealer/broker

A specialist dealer or broker will give you advice on all the points you need to consider, answer any questions you may have and make recommendations. As a businessperson you have very different needs to someone who may be buying a phone for purely personal use.

Pick a network

There are five mobile phone networks to choose from: O2, T-Mobile, Orange, Vodafone and now ‘3’ (the first ‘third generation’ service provider). Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile and others operate their services via these five primary networks.

The first step in choosing a network is to find out whether it at least provides coverage for the areas in which you will be using your phone. But whichever company you choose, you may occaisionally find that you can't use your phone due to 'blackspots' and geographical variations, for example in a valley, in the shadow of or inside a building with dense or metallic construction.

You may want to use your phone travelling abroad. Again, picking a network with the greatest amount of "roaming agreements" means you have more chance of staying in touch while you are out of the country. Ensure you can make and receive calls on the networks and in the countries you need. You may be able to sign-up to a ‘frequent traveller’ discount scheme. In Northern Ireland the situation is slightly more complex than in the rest of the UK as it has a land border with the Republic of Ireland and areas with weak NI signals may pick up an expensive ‘roaming’ connection from the Republic.

The introduction of higher speed data services such as GPRS and UMTS  (third generation, 3G) services means that more functional applications can be supported such as always-on Internet connectivity or multimedia messaging including pictures or video clips and even video conferencing - although coverage for these higher bandwidth applications may be patchy for some time as networks develop.

Calculating the cost

By seeking advice from specialist business mobile phone dealers/brokers you should be recommended a tariff that suits you and your business' needs. Most operators offer tariffs that enable you to purchase "bundles" of minutes in advance, take advantage of low rate international or local calls, or simply pay for the calls you make. Probably the most beneficial tariffs for businesses are those that let you share minutes across multiple handsets, a great way to reduce costs and ensure you only get one bill, or to carry over any unused inclusive minutes to the next billing period. You should be able to get a deal whereby calls between your business handsets are included at no extra charge, and in that case you could install a GSM module in your office PBX or use a network 'gateway' so that calls from the office to company mobiles are free or at least included in bundled minutes.

After sales service

Once you've sought specialist advice, chosen a network, tariff and a mobile phone that meets your needs, you want to rest assured that you are making the most out of your mobile, getting the best value for money and have someone on hand for any queries you may have. Several operators offer special schemes for business customers including these services.

To ensure that you can maximise your mobile communications to stay "ahead in business" the service you choose should include dedicated business customer services and regular "value check" tariff analysis. A broken phone can mean loss of valuable business - you should look for a scheme that ensures you are never out of touch for long by providing you with a loan phone whilst yours is being replaced or repaired.

A good after sales service scheme will ensure you receive the level of service you expect, from quickly resolved customer service queries to knowing that you are on the most suitable tariff for your needs and usage.

Note from partner:

Mobile marketing campaigns

You can use sms for business services in mobile marketing campaigns which will help you reach your customers more efficiently and get a high response rate.

Resources from our Advertisers:

Reviewed January 2011

last updated : 15/06/2011

See also our UK ICT Directory for supplier lists and links

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