Is #BYOD dead for #GenMobile? What does California’s court ruling mean for companies?

By Alan Ni, Director of Smart Spaces & IoT
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On August 12, 2014, the California Court of Appeals made a ruling on BYOD reimbursement that created waves far and wide. The appellate court ruled that companies are required to reimburse workers for business calls on personal devices. While the lawsuit specifically concerned BYOD voice calls, one can easily assume that BYOD data usage would likely fall under the same guidelines.


While the Cochran v. Schwan's Home Service, Inc. decision only applies to California-based employees, rest assured that similar rulings and lawsuits may be coming to a jurisdiction near you.

BYOD reimbursement has been a largely contested topic since the debut of the original iPhone. Without clear case law precedent, employers adopted a range of reimbursement policies with the stingiest employers socking all usage charges to their rank and file. While many companies have taken a more moderate approach, the latest ruling will send many employers back to the drawing boards.

Things to start considering:

  • Revisit your BYOD policies with your mobile strategy stakeholders and internal legal team to understand your organization's liability exposure.
  • Have Aruba Wi-Fi? Consider aggressively offloading in-building cellular voice and data traffic onto your "toll-free" in-building wireless network. Leverage powerful Aruba features such as AppRF and ClientMatch to optimize the user in-building experience and deliver QoS.
  • Encourage employees to use Wi-Fi for voice calls. Lesser quality over-the-top (OTT) VoIP applications are no longer their only option. Within the last week, groundbreaking announcements from Apple (iOS8), T-Mobile (Wi-Fi calling support on all new devices) and Verizon Wireless (Wi-Fi calling by mid-2015) made free Wi-Fi calling a lot more attractive for your non-techie users. Expect other major carriers to follow.
  • Smartphones wander all over the building and mobile VoIP hates dropped packets. Evaluate your Wi-Fi coverage in corridors, non-carpeted spaces, outdoor spaces, and back of house locations. These are ideal areas for the cost-effective AP-205 or outdoor AP-275 802.11ac APs.
  • Have Aruba ClearPass? Leverage ClearPass reporting, access tracker and ClearPass Exchange to determine the BYOD usage you have offloaded onto your Wi-Fi network. This data can help substantiate your reimbursement amounts.

So is the concept of BYOD dead? Not really – this ruling doesn't prevent me from using my 4K resolution- 15" Galaxy Note at work. But if your organization's definition of BYOD is reducing costs by shedding all corporate cellular charges to your employees, think again. Fortunately with 802.11ac and advanced features such as ClientMatch, a meaningful portion of in-office cellular usage can be offloaded to your private Wi-Fi network thereby keeping your expenditures in check.