University Policies
Policy Contact
Director, Telecommunications and Network Technology Email 401-863-7166

Cellular Communication Devices Policy

Policy No. Issue Date Effective Date

1.0 Policy Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to provide essential, business-related tools for faculty and staff in a manner that promotes the proper stewardship of assets and establishes a framework for consistent decision-making. While recognizing that properly used Cellular Communication Devices facilitate University business, the University must manage the costs and risks associated with such use.

2.0 To Whom the Policy Applies

This policy applies to staff and faculty employees of the University.

3.0 Policy Statement

The University will provide Brown-owned cellular devices to employees with valid business needs for such devices. A University-issued device must be authorized by the employee’s manager and cost center manager for academic and administrative departments, and must be purchased from the list of approved devices through the Office of Information Technology (OIT) and serviced under the University’s corporate account program managed by OIT. Payment for these devices are the responsibility of the academic or administrative unit.

3.1 Eligibility

Employee eligibility for a University-issued Cellular Communication Device is based on benefit to the University in the furtherance of its mission as determined by a Dean (or their designees) for academic units or a Vice President (or their designees) for administrative departments, rather than for the convenience of the employee.

To be eligible for consideration of a University-issued Cellular Communication Device, an individual must be a Brown employee, and must have a valid business need, which is defined as the need to be readily accessible for contact with the public or with the University for required or essential business communication needs due to one of the following:

  • Frequent and regular travel as part of job responsibilities (on travel at least 30 days per year)
  • Working permanently at a location where a physical landline or virtual phone is unavailable or impractical
  • Frequently out of physical landline or virtual phone contact during business hours
  • Required to receive or initiate communication in an Emergency Situation
  • Required to be accessible and available during non-business hours or by electronic means at all times

Only one University-issued Cellular Communication Device will be issued to an employee.

Employees eligible for a Brown-owned device may:

  1. Decline the Brown-issued device and instead use their own personal cellular device for Brown business,
  2. Decide not to have a personal cellular device and only use the Brown-issued device in all instances, or
  3. Carry two phones, one business and one personal.

3.2 Employee Use of University-Issued Cellular Communication Devices

Employees who are issued Brown devices are expected to conduct University business on those devices. The devices are for the exclusive use of the employees to whom they are assigned. Users must not allow or facilitate access by others.

Non-business use of a University-issued device is not prohibited; however, the University reserves the right to access University-issued devices and data on those devices in accordance with the Electronic Information Access Policy. There is no expectation of privacy in any information or activity conducted, sent, performed or viewed on or with any University-issued device. 

An employee should consider whether they would be able to keep personal and Brown records separate and/or would not be concerned if any personal information on a Brown device were not available to them.

Brown does not port personal cellular telephone numbers over to the University’s cellular plan or onto University-issued cellular devices.

3.3 Employee Use of Personally-Owned Cellular Communication Devices

Employees eligible for University-issued cellular devices may choose to use their personal cellular device instead of the University-issued cellular device, except in cases where the University-issued cellular device has been issued to the employee as a specific Job Tool. Employees who choose to use their personal cellular devices do so entirely at their own expense with no reimbursement from the University.  

The University may reimburse incremental costs associated with personally owned Cellular Communication Device usage during University travel  in accordance with the Travel Policy: Miscellaneous Expenses.

If an employee uses a personal cell phone or other mobile device(s) to conduct Brown business (e.g., phone calls, emails, text messages, photos/videos, apps, etc.), the employee must provide a copy of the Electronic Information that relates to Brown if requested for the purposes of an investigation, or in accordance with a Litigation Hold.

3.4 Change in Job Responsibilities or Separation

University-issued devices are the property of the University. Employees must return the University-issued Cellular Communication Device upon request and upon separation from University service or a change in job responsibilities. It is the responsibility of the employee to back up any personal information that has been stored on the University-issued cellular device prior to returning the device.  

Upon separation from the University, an employee may request permission to port their Brown-issued device cellular number over to a personal cellular plan. Permission to port the number will be based on a business decision by the employee’s department. 

3.5 Security of Information and Devices

The University standards for security of devices containing Brown University information applies to personally and Brown-owned Cellular Communication Devices. Please refer to the Endpoint Device Security Policy for details.

3.6 Exception Process

Department requests for exceptions should be made as follows:

  • for academic units: by the Dean or their designee to the Provost, and
  • for administrative departments: by Vice Presidents or their designees to the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration,

with a copy to (the office of Telecommunications) and (OIT Service Center).

4.0 Definitions

For the purpose of this policy, the terms below have the following definitions:

Cellular Communication Device:

A communication device that is portable, designed to be carried by a person to conduct business communication activities, and equipped with a cellular plan.

Emergency Situation:

A situation when there is a significant, imminent risk to public security and/or University property, or an officially declared campus emergency

Job Tool:

A Cellular Communication Device that is issued to an employee to be used as an essential tool for performing job duties. The device is used to run specific apps (such as Planon) that allow an individual to quickly access the information needed to perform tasks.

5.0 Responsibilities

All individuals to whom this policy applies are responsible for becoming familiar with and following this policy. University supervisors are responsible for promoting the understanding of this policy and for taking appropriate steps to help ensure compliance with it.


  • Submit requests for University-issued devices to be approved by the employee’s manager and the appropriate Cost Center manager.
  • Use University-issued devices primarily for business purposes.
  • Notify OIT in advance of any international travel requiring changes in cellular coverage for a University-issued device.
  • Ensure that all cellular devices, regardless of ownership, comply with the Endpoint Device Security Policy.

Employee Managers:

  • Authorize University-issued Cellular Communication Devices only for faculty and staff members who have a valid business need for their use.
  • When a device is no longer needed, whether as a result of employment separation, position transfer or change in job responsibilities, collect the University-issued device from the employee and return the device to OIT.
  • Address situations where University-issued devices are used in violation of this policy, which could include notifying University Human Resources.

Cost Center Manager:

  • Provide final approval for all cellular device requests, confirming that the accounting is valid and correct for each approved device.
  • Confirm annually in Workday the valid business needs for all active users of University-issued Cellular Communication Devices for the cost center.

Office of Information Technology:

  • Manage inventory through Workday of all active cellular device users in each academic and administrative unit including recording device issuance to the employee and device return.
  • Process returned cellular devices by imaging data in cases of Litigation Hold and wiping devices of data. Devices will be returned to the department and held to be reissued to other employees.
  • Ensure that departments have gone through all required annual equipment certification processes in Workday supporting ongoing eligibility for each employee.
  • Report policy abuses to the Employee Manager and the Compliance Office, as appropriate.
  • Maintain the list of cellular devices approved for purchase.

Strategic Sourcing & the Office of Information Technology:

  • Jointly negotiate contracts with cellular carriers for all University-issued Cellular Communication Devices.

6.0 Consequences for Violating this Policy

Failure to comply with this and related policies is subject to disciplinary action, up to and including suspension without pay, or termination of employment or association with the University, in accordance with applicable (e.g., staff, faculty) disciplinary procedures.

7.0 Related Information

Brown University is a community in which employees are encouraged to share workplace concerns with University leadership. Additionally, Brown’s Anonymous Reporting Hotline allows anonymous and confidential reporting on matters of concern online or by phone (877-318-9184).

The following information complements and supplements this document. The information is intended to help explain this policy and is not an all-inclusive list of policies, procedures, laws and requirements.

7.3 Related Forms

  • N/A

7.4 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

  • N/A

7.5 Other Related Information

Policy Owner and Contact(s)

Policy Owner: Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer

Policy Approved by: President

Contact Information:

Director, Telecommunications and Network Technology Email 401-863-7166

Policy History

Policy Issue Date:

Policy Effective Date:

Policy Update/Review Summary:



Webpage updated February 7, 2023