Bring your own Internet is the next trend to vex IT pros

Affordable devices and slow-to-adapt IT departments drove the growth of BYOD. The next logical step in this trend is Bring your own Internet (BYOI).

BYOD happens. "95% of respondents say their organizations permit employee-owned devices in some way, shape or form in the workplace." That's from a May 2012 study funded by Cisco.

People often prefer a device of their choice to one "approved" by the organization. BYOD enables people to do personal activities at work - and run apps not formally approved or supported by the organization.

Affordable devices and slow-to-adapt IT departments drove the growth of BYOD. The next logical step in this trend is Bring your own Internet (BYOI). Wide availability of low cost, high-speed Internet will drive adoption of BYOI.

Wired broadband Internet costs

Consider the case of an employee connecting to the Internet at home. The average broadband speed in the United States is 5.8Mbps, according to Akamai's "State of the Internet" report from Q4 2011. The cost for that connection is likely $50 per month or less, based on current pricing from Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider. That's a cost of about $8.30 per Mbps per month.

If the employee lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, they can get a 1,000 Mbps (1 Gigabit) connection to the home for $350 per month. That works out to about $0.35 per Mbps per month.

The economics look very different if you live in a select neighborhoods in Kansas City served by Google's fiber-to-the-home initiative. After initial setup costs, Google will charge $70 per month for a 1,000 Mbps connection. That's a cost of about $0.07 per Mbps per month. Google's fiber initiative provides hope that a truly competitive broadband market will drive prices significantly lower.

Wireless broadband Internet costs

Wireless connections are also interesting. In the U.S., wireless connections tend to be priced by total data consumed per month, while wired connections tend to be priced by speed.

Consider the case of an employee with a Chromebook or iPad. With a Chromebook, the employee might expect average 3G download speeds of a slightly more than 1Mbps on the Verizon network, according to speed tests published by PCWorld in April 2012. With a current generation iPad on the Verizon network, the employee might expect 4G download speeds in excess of 10Mbps when the iPad is used as a hotspot, according to speed tests published by CNET in March 2012. In both cases, for around $50 per month the employee can use up to 5Gb of broadband wireless data.

Latency on wireless networks can limit their use for some applications. Data caps on connections also can present costly problems for some users and organizations.

The IT Manager's broadband challenge: "It's faster at home"

The median download speed among broadband connected businesses is 4.9Mbps, according to Connected Nation's "2012 Jobs and Broadband Report" (PDF) released in May 2012.

That 4.9Mbps is slower than the 5.8Mbps speed connection at home.

If you assume a prototypical family of four sharing the 5.8Mbps connection, that's 1.45Mbps per person. If your office Internet connection is less than this, employees will likely complain that the "Internet is faster at home." And they'll be right.

You could spend all day arguing that people don't need a faster Internet connection for work. You also could invest lots of time and effort blocking "unnecessary" traffic. You could make a case that the corporate network is more secure than a user-managed connection. I don't think any of these will work in the long term. People will buy an inexpensive 3G/4G connection and route-around blocking.

You can do just one thing to prevent BYOI: provide employees Internet connections at least as fast as consumer alternatives.

What's your organization's available bandwidth per employee?

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Andy Wolber helps people understand and leverage technology for social impact. He resides in Ann Arbor, MI with his wife, Liz, and daughter, Katie.

Baron von Headloq
Baron von Headloq

... and wonders if he is perhaps in the (very small?) minority who see gloom and pain while the "BYOx" (Bring Your Own whatever) thingie gathers momentum. Who, precisely, do employees work for? Last time I checked, for employERs. Having been both in the past (employee and employer), I am forced to ask whether or not the "me me me" culture is not perhaps getting a bit out of hand. The employee bears almost zero responsibility or cost (essential, not elective!) for the consequences of BYOx. There are usually very good reasons (security, cost, consistency and more) for NOT allowing a BYOx free-for-all. In any event, aside from a little "reasonable personal activity" (which includes making a doctor's appointment, sorting out young Tim's school bag issue, and maybe even a quick call to partner to say something sweet and loving), what the heck "personal" stuff is SO engaging that one simply must BYOx and hang the employER's interest in running an actual business? I recognize the need for compromise, but this is beginning to be a bit much ... hell, I even have employees (yeah, I am an employer for now) who look shocked, wounded and open-mouthed when I break it to them that BYOE (Bring Your Own Email) for company mails is just NOT acceptable. My formerly full head of hair is less so now ... they just don't get it that confidential company information is ONLY to travel via company email. This is only one tiny, tiny example. There are more. Watch ... BYOx is not going to end all that happily. I shall now return to Ludd Manor, and my happy little coterie of Luddites!


why dont we just cut out the middle man, if BYOD and BYOI are the next big things, why not BYOE ( bring your own employee ) i mean if im gonna pay for my own phone/computer/internet why dont i just pay someone to come in and do my work for me. ill take a cut and just have to sit on my butt and eat cheetos.

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

What's your organization's available bandwidth per employee? Are you concerned about bring your own internet? How will you manage the trend?

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