FY 2014 Delivers Enterprise Growth in Wireless

Posted by Mary Davie
on January 23, 2015

(This blog post is part of a multi-week series reviewing data and trends from GSA’s IT acquisition vehicles for FY14. Read previous posts at http://gsablogs.gsa.gov/technology/)

As we all know, the explosion in demand for wireless and mobile services is continuing at a pace hard to keep up with. And with that popularity comes government’s continuing need to find ways to exploit those technologies while simultaneously saving money and increasing acquisition and operational efficiencies.

In FY 2014, we saw agencies increasingly turn to GSA’s Federal Strategic Sourcing Initiative (FSSI) Wireless Blanket Purchase Agreements (BPAs). Initially launched in the second half of FY 2013, the BPAs experienced substantial growth in FY 2014, with multiple enterprise level buys (greater than 2,500 units) awarded and task order-level competition yielding very competitive rates and cost savings for most federal users.

Since June 2014, month over month program growth exceeded 30%. Additional awards are anticipated in early FY 2015 increasing agency usage and savings (>20%) for the foreseeable future.

Cost Savings, Choice, and Efficiency

The growing demand of the FSSI Wireless solution is largely due to the >22% cost savings they deliver and the flexible features they offer (including no-charge refreshable devices, open market premium devices, agency-level pooling to reduce overage costs, and adherence to federal policies and administrative priorities). The achieved savings by participating agencies is compared to their prior rates or government-wide average and not list prices.

FSSI Wireless BPA task order competitions have driven rates lower from the award value to rates as low as $42, $40, $38, and $36 per user per month for many common smartphone plans.

This competition lowered the average monthly rate across all federal mobile users to approximately $40 per user. The prior average rate across government based on the contracts we reviewed was nearly $55, which was comprised primarily of devices with limited data capabilities. This means the FSSI Wireless BPAs are producing considerable additional savings for agencies as they deploy devices with a much greater data-intensive footprint.

The BPAs have the added advantage they include government-wide discounts that apply as government-wide usage increases, which adds even greater value.

The more agencies use the BPAs, the greater the current and future cost savings for the government and taxpayers.

Initial savings are through the discounted wireless plan pricing and no-cost devices. Two of the four carriers on contract have committed that the BPA prices are the lowest they offer government buyers.  In addition, agencies can see the published prices on all the BPAs in a single place.

In addition, the pooling option for data and minutes are saving agency dollars by allowing high-volume users to leverage the unused minutes and MBs purchased by lower volume users, further reducing overage costs.

Savings came in acquisition efficiencies too. In the past year, some agencies procured services from the BPAs in as little as 3-5 days.  One agency procured 3500-plus devices in less than two months and indicated they could have executed the order in less time.

Wireless Buying Trends

The most popular data add-on and data-only plans are the 500MB Pooled and Unlimited plans. The most popular voice plans under the BPAs are the 400 Minute Pooled and 100 Minute Pooled plans.

We’re finding agencies default to unlimited when they don’t know what they will use to avoid potential overages. The FSSI wireless contracts offer agencies usage data enabling them to structure the right plan and pooling arrangement that will satisfy individual needs reducing risk of overages.

During 2014, government agencies also took advantage of additional assistance offered by GSA to help manage the mobile component of their IT enterprise by using GSA’s Managed Mobility sources of supply list or the FSSI Wireless BPAs to add mobile management resources they can bundle with wireless service plans.

Overall, 2014 was a successful year for GSA’s wireless and mobile programs.  Building on the FSSI Wireless Program and Managed Mobility Program, we consolidated these solutions and category management approaches under the GSA Enterprise Mobility Program.

Going forward in 2015, we expect wireless BPA usage and savings to continue to grow. Several agencies indicate the BPAs will be their contract vehicle of choice for all future acquisition of wireless services.

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