For starters, you need to accurately estimate your organizations M2M data usage profile. All too often a company underestimates their typical data usage profile and starts with an insufficient amount of service, and then realizes after launching they need to transmit more data and perhaps report more frequently. Be realistic about the levels of service you may offer and their various data usage profiles now and in the future. If youre offering an M2M solution for fleet tracking, are those vehicles typically used 5 or 7 days a week? Are they typically used 9-5 or 24/7? Knowing this in advance will help you accurately determine and plan for the correct data usage profile.
Be sure you fully understand the total cost of ownership associated with data usage and overage charges. Pay special attention to the cost of various Per Device Plans and the overage associated with each plan. Also, look at the cost for SIM fees when reviewing plans. Its particularly important to look at how per device plan overage fees are addressed. Is overage price at per KB vs. per MB? Some providers price per KB because they are trying to hide the real cost of overage per MB. Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) wireless services providers that resell data but dont actually own a network have a business model that relies upon overage fees, and the costs can be hefty.
For example, MVNOs typically offer per device plans where you subscribe to a fixed amount of data each and then incur overage is you exceed the fixed amount in a given month. Most often the charges for overages are reflected in KBs. For example, if you have a 5MB per month plan and it experiences overage one month of 1,024KB, at .070 cents per KB of overage, youll actually be paying $71.68 per MB in just overage fees!
Excessive overage costs can quickly add up at a nightmarish pace if you have hundreds devices deployed and lack real-time thresholds and proactive alerts with options for taking corrective action in the event they exceed predetermined thresholds that exceed preset daily and monthly limits.
Dont get caught in this scenario: One of your largest customers wants to have all of their fleet report at a more frequent rate, which is going to impact the amount of data required each month and he wants the change today, in the middle of the month and billing cycle. So you increase the reporting frequency and your usage profile increases by 50% and then when the bill arrives your discover the impact, which results in significant overage since you exceeded your fixed plan and were not able to make a change to upgrade the plan until the start of the next bill cycle. You experience firsthand what is known as bill shock and find yourself on the hook with a whopping bill for overages fees because you did not read the fine print of per KB pricing and know that you could not change rate plan mid bill cycle.
Underestimating usage can also be the result of unplanned software and firmware fixes, unwanted SMS spam and international roaming which can all lead to unexpected charges. M2M providers that offer in-network-only services help to reduce the likelihood of getting spammed, making additional data charges unlikely.
To proactively monitor usage, you should have an easy-to-access hosted portal with a dashboard that allows you to monitor and control your devices and services. This will give you the ability to change plans as needed to accommodate evolving data needs. Ideally, the portal should provide tools to help you identify potential rogue devices and set threshold and alerts that draw attention to devices that are exhibiting unusual behavior and may require remote troubleshooting in order to drill down and resolve in advance any potential issues.
With any M2M solution you should review your total cost of ownership, taking into consideration all the associated fees that you might need now or potentially in the future. For example, many carriers charge extra fees for Application Programming Interfaces (APIs); these can enhance your M2M solution by allowing you to extend many feature of the portal into your companys applications. But some M2M providers provide APIs free of charge as part of their device management and diagnostics services.
By design, M2M systems are more flexible than consumer telecommunications systems. Be sure any M2M connectivity provider you are considering offers flexible billing options and full visibility into charges and usage so that you can explore any potential for hidden costs. Find out if there are extra charges for provisioning, varying levels of support, certification of devices, suspension of devices, voice setup or other services.
By understanding the ins and outs of M2M connectivity pricing, youll be in a great position to provide the most cost effective and highest quality of service for your organization.
Aeris Communications offers the lowest M2M prices across all these factors. To view a real world case study of how Aeris provides the lowest Total Cost of Ownership, click here.