‘Ask Apex’ is an ongoing series that seeks to help you understand the sometimes confusing world of business wireless. We’ll look at common questions or procedures and try to explain them in plain English.

As wireless carriers have begun to give business clients unlimited nationwide calling and texting, data is the new area for concern when trying to manage costs on a corporate wireless account.

When we put more and more smartphones into the hands of employees, it follows that some will run into issues with data overages. While the average corporate user ends up using around 1 GB of data per month, I see it regularly where clients are incurring data overage charges due to streaming.

Services like Apple Music, Spotify and Netflix are becoming ubiquitous on our mobile devices – but it’s important for employers to define an acceptable amount of data use on corporate-owned devices and that team members are aware how much data these services can use and how to minimize overages.

Streaming

Streaming music services such as Apple Music and Spotify are terrific for a lot of reasons. With more than 30 million songs available to listen to on each service, music lovers could literally never hear the same song twice if they liked. I started streaming with now-defunct Rdio a number of years ago and now no longer own a CD.

But users need to be mindful that these services use data at an average rate of about one MB/minute [or 2 GB/34 hours]. If you’re on Wi-Fi this isn’t an issue – but many of us will listen to tunes on the bus, in the car or at the gym.

If this is the case, you’ll want to know that both services offer the ability to store songs and playlists locally on your smartphone. This will require some management on the end user’s behalf but will save on those pesky data charges.

Here’s how to sync a playlist locally in Apple Music:

Apple Music playlists

And here’s a link that will help you do the same in Spotify:

Sync files locally in Spotify

Now, here’s where you can get into trouble really quickly.

Streaming video uses wireless data much faster than music. In fact, you can use 2 GB in only an hour if you’re watching HD quality video on a service like Netflix or YouTube. And neither of these offer the ability to store locally and watch later.

It’s for this reason that we highly recommend that your mobile policy addresses the use of streaming services – and video in particular. Not only is binge-watching ‘House of Cards’ not in most people’s job description, but a whole season of Frank Underwood will see you get through more than 20 GB of data.

Let’s finish with some tips for business owners or folks who administer the wireless account:

  • Your mobile policy may not have been updated since the advent of these media streaming services. Check to see if it needs refreshing.
  • Most MDMs give you the ability to see if these apps are installed and to prompt users to uninstall them. Ask us for more info.
  • Encourage use of Wi-Fi wherever possible. Employees should connect at the office, at home and at the hotel [if they’re travelling] in order to keep cellular data usage to a minimum.
  • Use a TEM service in order to spot users with unusually high data usage. It’s often one or two outliers that can unknowingly cause issues for everyone else.