Sorting out mobile call costs

With the advent of GPRS technology and PDAs, the use of mobile phones is proliferating and modernising communication within organisations. But the ability to recoup money from employees for private calls has remained a prehistoric chore.

However, officials at telecommunications management and brokerage vendor Stratatel say the company has designed a way of automating the process to control the spiralling costs associated with mobile phones.

A module in its Internet-based MobileFleet management service, called the Personal Call Recovery System, is able to differentiate business and residential calls from a telecommunications carrier's bill, according to Mike Fairclough, managing director Stratatel. "We take the bill electronically and feed it into the system, which is able to differentiate between business and personal calls. We provide a detailed summary to the company which then recoups the money from the individual."

On specifics on how this actually happens, Fairclough declined to answer for competitive reasons.

However, he said the client can either provide a list of numbers and the system does a search by "exception", or the technology can differentiate between business and residential numbers.

Fairclough said up to 30 per cent of a mobile phone bills for corporate users are non-business. The vendor claims that a company with 2500 mobile telephones could expect to recoup savings of between $250,000 and $450,000 a year using its solution.

About 20 customers currently use the MobileFleet solution, which was developed by Stratatel about two years ago.

The recovery system module is currently being trialed by a state government agency. Fairclough said the trial has been going on for the past couple of months with a commercial release of the product due in four to six weeks.

"We also envisage the solution will be able to handle Internet calls." Using WAP, for example, Fairclough said the system would be able to differentiate between recreational and business sites, enabling the costs to be shared appropriately.