Monday, 4 July 2022 | 7 min read
How mobile data sharing will benefit your business
Written by Aussie Broadband, Editorial team
Australian businesses and consumers are using internet-enabled devices more and more as smart devices and the Internet of Things markets continue to expand. Mobile phones are only part of the equation for businesses, with technologies that leverage real-time monitoring and analytics proving to save time and money.
But all these solutions need to run on some form of network and they all need data to send and receive information. This is where data sharing comes in. When a business can pool their data and share across their fleet of devices, it becomes much easier to manage and much more cost-effective.
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So, how does data sharing work, how can businesses benefit from it, and what are the alternatives like?
What is mobile data sharing?
Mobile data sharing is a simple and cost-effective way for businesses to pool their available data across their mobile and mobile broadband plans and share it among their multiple devices.
These may be mobile devices that make and receive calls and texts, or any device with a SIM slot. So, that might include tablets, point of sale machines running in various locations, security cameras, equipment trackers, sensors, and much more.
Here’s how data sharing works:
Purchase SIM cards for however many devices you want hooked up to receive a connection. If you have devices running on your business Wi-Fi, then these won’t need SIMs. It’s just for those that won’t have access to your fixed line or Wi-Fi service.
The data allowances of each plan is pooled.
All your devices using this service then draw from the pool of data as needed.
Here’s an example of how a business might use data sharing across their fleet of devices. The data usage amounts here are only examples, as every business’s set of devices, needs and usage amounts will differ depending on a range of variables.
In this example, the business has purchased five SIM cards
1x 5Gb data-only mobile broadband plan
2x 10Gb mobile plans
1x 25Gb data-only mobile broadband plan
1x 40Gb data-only mobile broadband plan
This gives them a pool of 90Gb to share across their five internet-enabled devices.
One employee only uses 7.3Gb of data on their work mobile phone, while another uses 16.5Gb. The business has also hooked up their SIM cards to a tablet, a point of sale machine, and a smart motion detector security camera. These additional devices use up 1.6Gb, 6Gb, and 40Gb respectively.
All five devices take from the accumulated pool of 90Gb as they need it rather than each using individual mobile or data-only mobile broadband SIM plans.
This has left the business with 14Gb of buffer room. They can leave this buffer for emergencies or unexpected events like a critical software update on any (or all) devices or a last-minute video call with a customer.
What’s the use of data sharing for businesses?
Data sharing helps businesses remain flexible with how they use their smart devices and can help save money.
Taking the use-case above as an example, if this business had purchased two 10Gb mobile SIM plans and didn’t have data sharing enabled, one employee would’ve had data to spare, but the second one would’ve gone over their limit.
By pooling your data allowances, this second employee who used 16.5Gb of data wouldn’t need a larger, more expensive mobile plan, nor would the business need to purchase any additional data packs to keep the employee connected.
The example above only shows a sample business with a few devices. But when you expand out and consider the cost-saving potential across much larger fleets, you can see how data sharing could become greatly beneficial to businesses.
What’s the difference between data sharing and unlimited data?
When it comes to mobile phone plans, it pays to be wary of “unlimited data” promises from telco providers.
When we think about our internet plans, unlimited data generally means you’ll get a certain speed fairly consistently (with fluctuations, of course) and you can use as much data as you like, within reason.
Unlimited data mobile phone plans, and even data-only SIM plans, often don’t quite work the same way as your unlimited data internet plans that you might have for your home or business.
Generally, “unlimited data” mobile plans are the same as regular mobile plans that have a limited data allowance. The main difference is that if you exceed that limit you can keep using data, only it runs at a much slower speed.
Data sharing doesn’t mean unlimited data. Rather, data sharing gathers all your data into one pool and your connected devices can access the data from that pool. However, once the pool is drained, there’s no more data, so that’s when a user might need to top up their allowance.
The idea of “unlimited data” for mobile phone plans, in many cases, is just a marketing ploy. It’s not necessarily a lie, but it’s perhaps not the full truth either. For some businesses, having unlimited data, even in its limited capacity after you’ve exhausted your data allowance, may be the right option. Knowing there’s a backup – albeit a slow one – can instil some security that at least you won’t be left without any data.
Many other businesses prefer to go the data sharing route. As noted earlier, it does offer a cost-effective solution that ensures no data goes to waste.
Wi-Fi hotspot versus data sharing
Another option for businesses is setting up a Wi-Fi hotspot. This works best for businesses that are perhaps less dispersed but have multiple devices running at one site.
Pros and cons of a Wi-Fi hotspot
With a Wi-Fi hotspot device, you can use a data-only mobile broadband SIM plan to provide an internet connection to multiple Wi-Fi-enabled devices, regardless of whether there’s a SIM card in each of those devices.
Hotspot devices are also portable. So, if your whole team is travelling together, you’re running an event, or you run a mobile business like a food truck or mobile clinic, a hotspot might just do the trick.
While a Wi-Fi hotspot is great for connecting a lot of devices in one location, it also comes with some limitations.
As with any Wi-Fi connection, you’re limited to how far away from the hotspot your devices can go. The further they are from the hotspot device, the weaker the signal. In fact, Wi-Fi hotspots will generally give you slower internet speeds than you would get from a Wi-Fi router at your office or main site.
A Wi-Fi hotspot also won’t give you the full ability to make phone calls or texts. You can still make calls, as long as they’re calls made over an internet connection, like using FaceTime or Messenger calls.
How data sharing differs from a Wi-Fi hotspot
As noted earlier, data sharing avoids many of these pitfalls. It allows employees and devices to go wherever they need and still have access to the pool of data at the best speed available – depending on which mobile network it’s on. And, for devices that can make and receive phone calls, a mobile plan also lets you make texts and calls, even when there’s limited internet signal or availability.
Plus, as the example use-case above showed, you can even mix and match your mobile and data-only mobile broadband plans. It all goes into the same pool. (Although you do need to make sure that your phones have mobile SIM cards and not data-only SIMs, as they won’t be able to make calls otherwise.)
Combining data sharing with Wi-Fi hotspot also means you can have the best of both worlds. If you’ve got multiple sites, for example, you can run several Wi-Fi hotspots while letting each take from the shared data. It makes it a convenient and simple way of ensuring your business sites always have access to an internet connection.
Mobile data sharing
Mobile data sharing is a great way to get the most out of your mobile data allowance. It ensures your business gets the most out of the data you pay for and gives you and your employees the freedom to use their devices as much as they need. You’re also getting the most out of what you’re paying, so little goes to waste.
While other solutions exist, like “unlimited” data or Wi-Fi hotspots, there are limitations on how and where these kinds of plans can work. Data sharing may not be the solution for every business, but it does provide a cost-effective option to power your smart devices and employees on-the-go.
The Aussie Broadband Editorial team consists of copywriters, marketers, and subject matter experts across multiple fields. We aim to bring you the latest news, insights, and guides regarding everything internet, mobile, technology, and more...See all articles
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