World Cup fever is set to drive mobile data consumption (and bills) through the roof this summer, with a network analysis by our own team of researchers indicating a 40% jump in expensive video data usage during the tournament.

As fans take in highlights and even full matches via their company-paid mobile devices between 12 June and 13 July, mobility managers should brace themselves for bill shock at month end. Increased roaming charges for those on holiday are one concern, but the insatiable demand for video on the move could impact the entire enterprise.

Around the last World Cup in 2010, a study from Allot found that mobile data traffic jumped 24% globally, with video a major factor. Streaming rose 22% and YouTube usage increased 32% on the mornings after matches. With smartphone and tablet adoption now much higher, and elements like 4G and increasingly robust apps, the 2014 World Cup is set to be a watershed moment in mobile data consumption.

Even without a major world sporting event, our analysis shows that video is one of the biggest consumers of data on mobile devices, consistently accounting for 11% of all mobile data used on work devices. A mobile session on Netflix, for example, consumes 1GB of mobile data per hour for users watching a standard-definition stream. Bump that up to high-definition (as many will do now that more devices have retina or enhanced display) and data consumption rises to 3GB an hour.

If employees are using their phones whilst travelling for work, on holiday, or lucky enough to be in Brazil watching the World Cup – other multiples need to be factored in. Data costs in Brazil range from £1 – £6 per MB, meaning roaming charges there could add up to £2,800 for watching just one game.

At home or abroad, the personal and professional often blur where company mobile devices are concerned. The adrenaline rush of a major sporting event just amplifies the effect. If you’re concerned about bill shock during the World Cup, our own Mobile Data Gateway sits between employee devices and the internet, allowing companies to manage how staff are using mobile data with data compression technologies.