North American and European businesses are incurring total costs of at least $2.91 billion each year on connectivity for their mobile professionals, according to a new study by Rethink Technology Research.

The report, produced along with mobile connectivity services provider iPass, shows that when connecting predominantly via cellular, North American mobile professionals traveling internationally incur individual costs of anywhere from $205 to $1,459 per month. When purchasing W-Fi on demand, U.S. workers are incurring costs of about $148 per month.

The report assumes an average of six trips per month per individual, factors in the average costs for direct expenses such as in-flight, hotel and airport Wi-Fi fees and cellular data overages. The rapid proliferation of “free” Wi-Fi represents a flawed resource on which businesses are relying too heavily, the report noted.

“Although the costs of cellular roaming have been reduced, they still remain substantial when the amount of data used by a mobile professional is taken into account,” said Peter White, principal analyst and founder of Rethink Technology Research.

“Furthermore, piecemeal payment for Wi-Fi becomes expensive very quickly, and critically fails to provide the simplicity and convenience that users crave,” White said. “Business leaders need to understand the value of providing secure, reliable and cost-effective connectivity; this means ensuring their mobile workforce is connected via the right means, at any given time or location.”

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