There is a growing trend inside the modern enterprise to equip workers with always connected laptops and tablets that combine the benefits of Windows 10 processing power and productivity tools with the always-on connectivity of LTE devices.

These solutions – such as dongles, tethering and laptops with embedded SIMs – pose new challenges for the enterprise; none more so than the mounting data costs these devices consume.
To understand more about the true cost of always-on computing on Windows 10, the Wandera research team conducted a series of lab tests on a variety of Windows devices.

Calculating the cost of doing business remotely

The cost of improved mobile working means a significant increase in mobile data consumption. Productivity tools like Skype have become an integral part of modern work environments but rely on intensive data use – especially if video functionality is also used.
To understand more about the true cost of always connected laptops, the Wandera research team conducted a series of lab tests on a variety of Windows devices.
Arriving at an exact figure for each application or service is close to impossible, due to the vast number of variations at play. For example, data usage rates vary meaningfully depending on the device, the browser and a host of other factors. There are further criteria to consider too, such as how many people are on the Skype call (which impacts data usage by a further 10% per person) or the type of emailing activity someone conducts in Outlook (one attachment could be gigabytes alone, for example).
For the purposes of this research, the Wandera team made assumptions about typical user behavior. To mitigate anomalous results, each application was tested multiple times on multiple devices, with the results averaged to obtain more consistent findings.

The real cost of always connected laptops

Wandera research shows that for even half a day of remote working on LTE connections will cost almost $40 per user in the US and almost £10 per user in the UK, posing a significant accumulated cost to the business.
Here’s a summary of the results:

  • Skype call with video; 1.2GB per hour = £2.40 / $9.60
  • Slack video call; 0.75GB per hour = £1.50 / $6.00
  • Zoom video call; 2GB per hour = £4.00 / $16.00
  • Zoom audio call; 0.07GB per hour = £0.14 / $0.56

Updates and processes

  • Software updates; 3.3GB on average = £6.60 / $26.00
  • DOSvc; 1.9GB on average = £3.80 / $15.20
  • App store updates; 0.37GB on average = £0.74 / $2.96
  • Background processes; 0.3GB per day = £0.60 / $2.40


  • Slack text only; 3MB per hour = £0.06 / $0.24
  • Slack with media; 0.5GB per hour = £1.00 / $4.00
  • Outlook; 8.8MB per hour = £0.18 / $0.70

Media streaming

  • Netflix; 2.3GB per hour = £4.60 / $18.40
  • Spotify; 0.2GB per hour = £0.40 / $1.60
  • YouTube; 1.4GB per hour = £2.80 / $11.20

Wandera’s research indicates that when always connected laptops are connected to tethered devices, metered connections or internal SIMs – large system updates and other non-critical services quickly eat up cellular data plans – without the user realizing or desiring it. Involuntary service updates, cloud storage file syncing and background app updates – together with business collaboration tools and the use of recreational apps – are contributing to expensive data overages and unwanted costs. Wandera analyzed how much data the “average” employee uses to carry out typical, daily work-related activities using a SIM-enabled Microsoft Surface Pro.

Data management across all devices

Devices are converging, as the lines between mobile and desktop continue to blur. Innovative organizations are adopting new tools to set policies that carefully manage the consumption of data when connected to metered networks. Whichever solution is adopted by the enterprise, there is inevitably a price tag attached.
We recently launched Exten, the first data management solution for Windows 10 devices including those always connected laptops and tablets connecting to metered networks, via embedded SIMs or MiFis for example. Exten allows admins to: cap data usage by network; block unwanted services from using data; get usage alerts for both admins and users; and much more. Find out more about Exten here.
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