Weak mobile Wi-Fi repeatedly dropping out is an issue that most people can relate to. No matter when it happens, it’s never a good time, whether it’s interrupting video playback, stopping an important email being sent or slowing down webpage loading times.
To combat this, in Apple’s latest iOS release, iOS 9, devices will now automatically connect to cellular networks when Wi-Fi signal is low or lost. Theoretically, this means that users will be able to continue streaming videos or browsing the internet with no interruptions. Apple has said that this new feature is in response to both users and developers asking for a solution to that problem. So why should this matter to you as an enterprise?
The simple answer is data usage. As soon as the phone switches to the cellular network it will of course start eating into the user’s data allowance. Currently, a weak Wi-Fi connection is obvious and users have to manually switch to 3G or 4G in order to continue with the task in hand, and in the process effectively give permission to start drawing down on their data allowances. But if this switch is happening automatically, the user may well be completely unaware of the costs racking up.
We have all seen the stories of bill shock where users have streamed video over data networks and while some of the instances are down to network naivety, with this new iPhone feature, even the most data-conscious user can fall foul of excessive data use and end up costing the enterprise hundreds of pounds.
So if enterprises’ devices are equipped with iOS 9, what should the IT team do to sidestep issues? The first step, as is typical with new enterprise technology, is educating employees on Wi-Fi Assist risks, making them aware of its dangers and costs. You may even want to insist that Wi-Fi Assist is disabled, or highlight “Wi-Fi blackspots” on your premises.
Secondly, ensure you have visibility of individual users’ data usage. This needs to be granular and in real-time. Remedial action you might undertake will be too late to make a difference.
Finally, proactive management. A combination of appropriate device and policy settings whilst also reducing data consumption through compression can give companies a significant edge in handling increased data volume and costs.
Wi-Fi Assist is a welcome tool for most users, but it has its risks. Enterprises need to mitigate these in advance, rather than put in measures retrospectively after the inevitable bill shocks.