BlogManaging Mobility: Understanding the Key Differences Between the US and Europe

Managing Mobility: Understanding the Key Differences Between the US and Europe

juli 25, 2019, Mobile Expense Management, Mobility / Service Support, Uncategorized

By Jim Le

Thinking globally is not just incorporating other countries into your decision making process. Thinking globally is actually transforming one’s perspective, and possibly physically as well, to other parts of the world.

As a Managed Mobility Services (MMS) provider, what are the key mindset shifts needed to meet the European and US mobile markets? It is important to avoid thinking in terms of better or worse, it is just different.

Geographic Size – Mobile Carrier Complexity

It is logical to correlate distance and effort. For example, it takes me 8 minutes, at least when I was 21, to run one mile, 16 minutes to run 2 miles, and so forth. But, that would be a big mistake to assume that correlation when it comes to mobile carrier needs.

Europe and US have similar size, in terms of square kilometers. However, there are 44 countries in Europe. In the US, there are 4 major mobile carriers. Likely, each carrier and country combination has a unique process and requirements. If you are counting, that is 4 (for the US) vs. approximately 176 (4 X 44) different processes to successfully navigate mobile needs in Europe.

How does this translate into mobile carrier requirements?

For example, a mobile carrier, such as Vodafone or Orange, may provide service for 3 adjoining European countries. To order phones and update plans, there may be a different URL for each country’s carrier portal, one country may not even have a portal, and each request may require different inputs and attachments.

Separation of Service (SIM) and Device

In Europe, the majority of phones are unlocked (to carriers), while in the US, it is the opposite. I will not get into the details of why, but there are a variety of factors such as geographic needs, mindset, legal requirements, and history. Eventually, we will get to the point where “unlocked” is the norm in the US as well, but we are not there yet.

In Europe, devices and mobile service (i.e. SIM) are thought of as separate entities. It is very common to simply swap out SIM cards with different carriers for your mobile device. And, being “unlocked” leads to flexibility and a few more prevalent mobile models.

Bring Your Own Mobile: Today, being an iOS or Android person are divisive topics, battle lines, and a piece of our identity. If you do not believe it, do a google search for “Android vs iPhone”. I am not above participating in this inane debate. If you are curious, I have a Samsung S10. The conversation is equally passionate when it comes to the preferred manufacturer and model. Some have jumped on the Google Pixel bandwagon, while others prefer Samsung, Apple, Huawei, etc.

To balance employee experience and financial overhead, some companies are allowing employees to use (and buy) whichever device they like while the employer is responsible for providing the preferred corporate plan via the SIM card. This way, everyone is happy.

Bring Your Own Number: Let’s face it, in today’s mobile economy, your mobile number is your identity. It’s how co-workers, friends, and family “know” and contact you. Previously, it was your home phone number or home address. Change your mobile number and all sorts of chaos can follow – like receiving an awkward text that was obviously intended for someone else. Or worse, being the sender. To alleviate the hassle and embarrassment, simply bring your number with you as you progress through your career and change employers (within country restrictions apply).

Neither of these models are impossible in the US mobile market, but they are much easier to enable and widely plausible in the European mobile market.

It Is All About the Data

Expense management is yet another challenge. And, there are a couple of aspects to take into account. Exchange rates aside, US data plans are extremely expensive, especially compared to our counterparts in Europe. In fact, one study found that the US mobile data pricing was four times more expensive than prices in many four-competitor European Union countries, and sixteen times more expensive than large, competitive four-competitor European markets.*

Not only are monthly costs higher in the US, there are far fewer carrier plan options available in the US. There are often more data plan break points like 2G, 3G, 4G, etc. Again, this is largely driven by competition. This is great for customer options, but it is an additional scale required to meet the needs of the European market.

Companies grow over time and many start out in one country and expand. With expansion comes (mobile) complexity. Managed Mobility Service providers, like Calero, offer solutions that focus on expense management, procurement and service support to handle your global needs so you can spend more time focusing  on your core business. To learn more about the complexity of managing mobile, check out our whitepaper How Software and Automation Solve the Enterprise Mobility Challenge.


Jim Le Author