Wandera eyes enterprise data roaming costs

Start-up plans to lower roaming bills while offering insight into employee smartphone usage

Eyeing the sometimes considerable data roaming bills that companies receive, a startup called Wandera launched a service Wednesday that promises to cut down on roaming data use.

The company is based in both London and San Francisco and was built by the same team who created ScanSafe, a company acquired by Cisco in 2009 that is now called Cisco Cloud Web Security.

The Wandera service will initially be available in the U.K. and U.S. and costs about US$4 per user per month. It works by routing all data communications from enterprise smartphones through a Wandera operated server.

"When content is viewed, it comes through our servers," said Eldar Tuvey, CEO and co-founder of the company. "Some of the things we do are obvious like compression. We can strip out JavaScript and do some conflation on images. In aggregate, it can reduce data by up to 30 percent."

Data compression systems are available from other companies, but their use is far from universal.

Google recently added such a function to a beta version of its Chrome browser and Microsoft offers Data Sense on Windows Phone 8, but it's only available through selected carriers.

Perhaps the best known data compression system was that applied by BlackBerry. Previous versions of its software routed traffic from BlackBerry smartphones through a server that added compression. But that's changed with the recently-launched BlackBerry 10 OS, which sends data over the carrier's Internet connection.

"We've had a lot of interest from companies that are contemplating the move from BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Service) to [Apple's] iOS. They are looking at a maybe 8x rise in data volume as there is no compression on iPhones."

Because all traffic to the phone goes through a Wandera server, the system also allows enterprises to set up some basic data saving rules, such as banning video streaming while roaming. A video ban could result in up to an additional 30 percent in data savings, said Tuvey.

The company also offers analytics that help enterprises see what applications its employees are accessing.

One caveat: like other compression systems, the Wandera service won't touch encrypted data connections.

Wandera also announced on Tuesday it had received $7 million in funding from Bessemer Venture Partners to help its launch and global expansion.

Martyn Williams covers mobile telecoms, Silicon Valley and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

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