iPhone Corporate Plans Not a Better Deal
Jan. 31, 2008 (Vol. 29, No. 3)
You wanted a corporate plan for iPhones, and AT&T has delivered. Now if only pooling were available and the charge for additional text messaging was less than what consumers are paying, not more.
AT&T ended almost seven months of anticipation on Jan. 21, announcing the details of a new corporate-liable plan for iPhones on its Web site (https://www.wireless.att.com/business/iphone/?_requestid=62369). However, corporate buyers get the same rate options as consumers when it comes to buying the essentials.
You can buy an AT&T Nation plan. That plan starts at $59.99 per user and comes with 450 voice minutes, unlimited e-mail/Web data, 200 text messages, 5,000 night & weekend minutes, and 45-cents-per-minute overages. The plan goes as high as $219.99 for 6,000 minutes, 200 text messages, unlimited night & weekend minutes, and 20-cents-per-minute overages.
Alternatively, you can buy the AT&T FamilyTalk plan. That plan starts at $109.00 for two lines with 700 voice minutes, unlimited e-mail/Web data, 200 text messages, unlimited night & weekend minutes, and 45-cents-per-minute overages. The plan goes as high as $339.99 for 6,000 minutes, unlimited e-mail/Web data, 200 text messages, unlimited night & weekend minutes, and 20-cents-per-minute overages.
Neither plan nor phone prices will be brought down in negotiations, asserts Mark Siegel, an AT&T spokesman. iPhones and other Apple-branded accessories are not eligible for any equipment discounts you might have negotiated in the past, he says, confirming what’s on the AT&T Web site. Corporate-liable users will pay $399 for the 8-GB phone, just like consumers, Siegel says. The 4-GB version is no longer available.
And there will be no adding iPhone minutes to your pooled plan either, Siegel advises.
But it gets worse. Consider the following wrinkles:
ü Unlike other AT&T phones, the iPhone isn’t available for “split-liability billing users,” Siegel confirms. That’s when an enterprise is financially responsible for some of the wireless services and the consumer gets billed for the rest. For example, your enterprise pays the data charges and the end user pays the voice charges.
ü Business users who want larger text message allowances will pay as much as $25 more per month. And AT&T’s Web site language seems to imply that businesses must purchase one of the premium text message plans. “Required for business customers and their corporate-liable users,” the Web site reads. “See your companies [sic] agreement for more details.”
The chart below spells out the rate differences:
How AT&T Charges for Text Messages on the iPhone
|+200 text messages |
$20 + 5 cents for each additional message over 400
$45 + 5 cents for each additional message over 400
|+1,500 text messages |
$30 + 3 cents for each additional message over 1,700
$55 + 3 cents for each additional message over 1,700
|Unlimited text messages |
Source: AT&T Mobility’s Terms & Conditions, https://www.wireless.att.com/business/iphone/plan_terms.pdf
Enterprise users typically are charged higher data rates than consumers because it’s assumed that road warriors will consume more data, Siegel says. Data plan rates, like everything else associated with the iPhone, are not negotiable, he adds.
There is one piece of good news, however: Buy a corporate data plan for an iPhone before March 31 and you can get a credit of $25 per month through Dec. 31, 2008. Your end users will have to keep the voice and data plan in order to receive the credits, and it might take as many as two billing cycles for the credits to show up on your bills, AT&T warns on its Web site.
ü In keeping with Apple’s policy, you have just 14 days to return an iPhone if you change your mind. There’s a 10% restocking fee if the box has been opened, AT&T says on its Web site.
ü iPhone business users must sign up for a two-year service agreement or renew for another two years, the same commitments applied to consumers, Siegel confirms.
Consider Eating $25 Fee or Get Users to Sign Waivers
So what’s the incentive to buy the iPhone on a corporate plan?
Allowing the end user to purchase an iPhone for corporate use – likely meaning they’ll store corporate data on it – leaves your enterprise at risk that the data will leave with the end user, notes telecom consultant Gary Eckert, president of Telytics, in Carlsbad, Calif. Plus, keeping the phone corporate-liable means you get to keep the phone number assigned to the device, instead of allowing calls to go to the user’s personal number after he or she leaves the company.
Even if it costs you more, Eckert recommends making iPhones corporate-liable if you can’t avoid buying them altogether. Execs are likely willing to spend the extra $25 a month for the corporate data plan, he says. “To them that’s a drop in the bucket,” he quips. “They spend that much on lunch.”But Ken Krupp, a 30-year Seattle-based telecom manager who recently opened his own telecom consulting business, suggests that enterprises try to take the best of both worlds. Consider buying the phones outside of the corporate-liable plan and have the users sign a waiver in which they agree to return the phones when they are no longer employed by your enterprise, he suggests. (