While I was learning about split billing for BYOD and enterprise mobility, I heard from a company called DataXoom, a relatively new mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) targeting the enterprise mobility and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) markets. I heard from them a few times since their launch, and got the opportunity to test DataXoom on an iPad 3 with 3G I keep in my home office for testing. I installed the Ookla Speedtest on the iPad and carried the iPad with me for a couple of days. You can use DataXoom on a range of devices.
The DataXoom website states, "Our devices operate on the largest LTE, CDMA, and GSM networks in the US." In my case, DataXoom ran on the AT&T network during my testing in the Washington, DC area.
Running DataXoom on an iPad
My first test took place in downtown Washington, DC in an area with lots of commercial and federal office buildings:
- Test Date: Feb 4, 2015 9:15 AM
- Download: 3.62 Mbps
- Upload: 1.62 Mbps
- Ping: 39 ms
- Connection Type: Cellular
- Server: Washington, DC
I went a "bit crazy" for this next test and fired up the iPad so I could return some email on my trip home riding a Washington, DC Metro train (DC's version of mass transit):
Test Date: Feb 4, 2015 4:20 PM Download: 1.64 Mbps Upload: 0.40 Mbps Ping: 58 ms Connection Type: Cellular Server: Washington, DC
Anybody who rides the DC Metro on a regular basis can tell you it's slow, and the cellular experience through many of the stations and tunnels runs from mediocre to non-existent.
My third test took place in a popular northern Virginia shopping destination:
- Test Date: Feb 7, 2015 2:00 PM
- Download: 1.29 Mbps
- Upload: 0.31 Mbps
- Ping: 75 ms
- Connection Type: Cellular
- Server: Washington, DC
Note: IP addresses and precise geographic locations have been edited out of the test results.
While using DataXoom during decidedly unscientific testing, I didn't feel I was losing anything based on my experience using AT&T data in the Washington, DC area.
DataXoom supplemental services
Where DataXoom might also be an interesting option is in supplemental services beyond being a mobile data MVNO. The company also offers:
- Mobile Device Management (MDM) management
- Wireless hardware and software sourcing
- Pre-packing services including asset tags
- Custom packing and kitting
- Demo/loaner solutions
You can outsource pretty much all of your technology infrastructure these days, but I don't hear much noise from outsourcing enterprise mobility or BYOD implementation and management. I expect to say DataXoom evolve their market positioning over time.
Onboarding my iPad wasn't much different then it was to get it online via AT&T. I heard from a DataXoom customer service representative, and I provided them with the following settings from my iPad:
- IMEI (International Mobile Station Equipment Identity)
- ICCID (Integrated Circuit Card ID)
- Network (In my case, AT&T)
In an email, Rob Chamberlin, DataXoom's co-founder and chief marketing officer described onboarding:
In a scenario in which a company is bringing company-owned equipment to us, yes, it would work exactly as it did on your iPad. Often times we procure hardware (mobile hotspots, tablets, and other data devices) and provide customers with specialized procurement processes, hardware, software, and service bundles, equipment leasing, etc. In some other cases, on-boarding can be as simple as providing SIM cards and training customer administrators on DataXoom's multi-carrier platform.
If the customer has existing equipment that they would like to re-use with DataXoom, that limits our choice of networks Chamberlin stated in an email.
Make or break for an MVNO like DataXoom is going to be data pricing. Likewise, as a potential customer you also need to know your current spending on corporate data including any trends. Chamberlain described DataXoom's pricing strategy as based upon their about to provide custom pricing in a flexible rate structure that limits breakage and overage, which generally provides both hard and soft cost reductions for customers.
He further explained in the same email that DataXoom determines pricing by a range of factors including:
- Underlying network cost
- Market pricing levels
- DataXoom's overall value proposition to the business customer
Chamberlain also cited, "Network cost and market pricing levels have been, and will continue to become, somewhat 'flat'. DataXoom's multi-carrier platform and ability to provide access to the wireless services our customers needs will continue to be a primary component of DataXoom's pricing model."
When current equipment is not a consideration, DataXoom works with their customers to analyze their current carrier billing, and determine how much data is being consumed, on average, per user per month. Based on this information, DataXoom can usually assess the correct carrier partner and pricing options to present to the customer.
"Generally, consumption habits determine which pricing model works best, so it is critical for our sales team to understand how to optimize consumption habits across multiple use cases within an organization," Chamberlin cited in an email.
According to Chamberlin, in unique cases geography may, but, as a rule, does not impact customer data pricing. DataXoom currently works with customers throughout the United States, and pricing is generally consistent across all area.
I'm going to label DataXoom as an interesting if not intriguing option for equipping enterprise mobile and BYOD devices with data.
The challenge for the company is going to be to compete for attention against the more enterprise mobility "household" names like mobile carrier business offerings, Good Technology and others with established sales teams, partner channels, and thought leadership. I'm especially interested in seeing how much DataXoom might challenge the current interest in split billing for mobile device costs.
Will Kelly is a freelance technical writer and analyst currently focusing on enterprise mobility, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), and the consumerization of IT. He has also written about cloud computing, Big Data, virtualization, project management applications, Google Apps, Microsoft technologies, and online collaboration for TechRepublic and other sites. Will also works as a contract technical writer for clients in the Washington, DC area and nationwide. Follow Will on Twitter: @willkelly.