What is SOU Changing?
Except for special circumstances SOU will no longer be providing cell phones and cell phone services for employees (faculty or staff). When a cell phone is a required business tool, the employee will be provided an allowance to cover the cost of business related usage of a personally owned phone and services plan.
Why is SOU changing current policies and practices?
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that business and personal use of University-provided cell phones be substantiated in a very detailed manner. They have recently made this an audit issue that is receiving serious attention in the higher education community. When the institution pays directly for the cell phone and the service plan, the IRS rules require extensive record keeping by the employee and the administrative staff to document the purpose of each business call and to identify each personal call on each monthly bill, and require timely reimbursements of any personal calls. Employees are required to pay a pro rata share of the monthly bill, not just pay for calls that exceed the monthly service plan. By implementing an allowance plan you will be able to use your personal cell phone for both business and personal calls without having to maintain detailed records of usage.
Does everyone get an allowance for a personally-owned cell phone or Internet connection?
No. This is not an entitlement. You should only receive the allowance if your job requires that you carry a cell phone where other less expensive means of communication are not adequate.
If I already have a cell phone plan which is paid for by SOU can I keep that plan?
No, unless you apply for and receive an exception to the new policy (see below). You will need to transition your current SOU plan to the new allowance plan by November 1, 2008.
When I transition to a personal service plan, can I keep my University cell phone?
Your SOU cell phone is the property of SOU. However, as long as you remain an employee of SOU, the University can loan the phone to you to use with your personal wireless service plan. If you elect to do this, you are required to complete the "Agreement to Allow Off-Campus Use of University Property Form" available from Business Services or Information Technology. You must return the University owned cell phone to SOU if you leave the employ of SOU.
When I transition to a personal service plan can I keep my current cell number? How do I do that?
Yes. We can authorize you to take responsibility for the account and by doing so you will own the cell phone number which can then be used when you open your personal account with any cell phone provider. You will be required to choose a services provider, and sign a contract with the new provider for a wireless services plan. Since SOU currently holds the contract for your cell phone number there is a process that must be completed to allow you to keep the phone number. You may obtain assistance from your Department Office Coordinator in making the transition from a university plan to the allocation plan.
Will SOU cover the purchase cost of my cell phone, or smart phone?
You are responsible for the purchase cost of the cell phone. Most wireless service providers bundle a free or discounted cell phone with the initial service plan, and you should consider this when shopping for your equipment and plan.
Employees that have a job requirement to use a smart phone may be provided with a smart phone equipment allowance that will cover a shared portion of the cost of the smart phone device. The maximum allowance for a smart phone is $300 and shall be reported as taxable income for the employee. There are many choices of devices, and which one is appropriate to meet individual business needs should be discussed with the supervisor. It is the employee's responsibility to come to a prior agreement with their supervisor concerning the amount of the smart phone allowance in advance of purchasing the device.
Who is responsible for replacing a cell phone that is lost, stolen, damaged, or what if I just want a new one?
Unless you have a University "loaned" cell phone, the cell phone, or smart phone and plan are your property. Should the phone be lost, stolen or damaged it is generally your responsibility to replace it.
Both the wireless services provider and SOU have some requirements about the frequency of equipment replacement. Generally your wireless services provider requires a contract, and that contract spells out how often you may upgrade your phone. Replacing the phone may extend the contract period.
The University provides you with an initial equipment allowance for the smart phone and may provide a replacement allowance only under very limited circumstances generally no more frequently than every 3 years and only for one of the following reasons:
- Equipment failure not caused by employee negligence
- Wireless Service Provider system change requires a replacement of equipment i.e. technology sunset or obsolescence
- SOU Technology System enhancement or Department business need requiring different equipment
You may apply for a review of your particular situation should you feel that the circumstances surrounding the situation are the responsibility of the University.
What is a smart phone and how is it different than a standard cell phone?
A smart phone is a mobile phone with advanced capabilities beyond a typical mobile phone, often with PC-like functionality. A smart phone includes a cellular telephone and personal digital assistant (PDA) in a single device and allows secure access to email. Some smart phones run complete operating system software such as Palm, Windows Pocket PC, Apple, or Symbian. Others, are simply a phone with advanced features.
Which smart phones and services are supported by the Information Technology Department?
I need Internet access on my Smart Phone... will that require a data plan?
Internet access will require a Smart phone. These phones can connect to the Internet through the cellular service and some are also capable of using wi-fi (the same as a laptop). Cellular access means you will need a data plan and will offer you "always-on" access to the Internet. If however, you want to save money, you should look for phones that offer wi-fi access to wireless networks such as our own "SOU OpenNet" here on campus. In many cases this access is free.
Which cell phone and provider should I use?
Wireless service providers in the Rogue Valley include AT&T (formerly Cingular), Sprint/Nextel, US Cellular, TMobile, and Verizon. Information Technology cannot endorse a particular carrier or franchise. The Information Technology Department's role is to establish standards for and provide you with assistance in using your personal wireless services with campus systems like email, SOU Open Net (wireless network), voice mail, and campus web services. IT does not provide assistance in selecting a wireless service provider or service plan. The service provider can assist you in making these selections. The wireless services industry is always changing. While we do our best to keep up-to-date and will advise you based on our latest knowledge and experience, we may not always know about everything that the providers are offering, so buyer beware!
I need a plan that costs more than the standard SOU allowance what should I do?
SOU understands that the policy may not meet every need. If you are not satisfied that the allocation plan works for your circumstances you can apply for a University owned cell phone and service plan through the exception process. Remember that you will be required to maintain auditable records (see below).
Will any "features" be considered part of my base plan cost?
As an example: text messaging, caller ID block, enterprise paging, extended nights and weekends, roadside assistance, voice dial, insurance.
Will the equipment allowance cover accessories such as a holster, car charger, headset, etc.?
The wireless services allowance should cover the cost of these items. Your business need for these features and accessories should be discussed and agreed to with your department head as part of the process of getting approval for your allowance.
How long do I have to transition from an SOU plan to the allowance plan?
You have until November 1, 2008 to transition to the allocation plan, or file for an exemption to the allocation plan (See below).
I have a Family Plan. Can I still get the $40.00 maximum allowance?
Yes. As long as the primary plan is at least $40.00
The business use of my cell phone is a smaller percentage of my overall use, but I still use the phone regularly for business purposes. Can I apply for a partial allowance under the $40. maximum?
Yes. As an example, you and your supervisor believe that in a typical month your cell phone will be used 25% of the time for business use. You could request an allowance of 25% of the plan cost.
Do the service providers offer any discounts to government employees, and can I take advance of these discounts on my personal plan?
The providers do sometimes offer discounts. However, you should be advised that Ethics law outlined in ORS Chapter 244 prohibits public officials (including SOU employees) from participating in provider or contractor discount programs designed for government use, except as noted in the ORS. When you complete the Wireless Services Allocation Authorization Form you will be asked to verify that the wireless plan selected does not conflict with SOU policy, and is not in violation of Oregon Ethics Law.
I don't want to switch to an allocation plan, what are my options?
You may request and get approval for an exemption to the University policy by using the "Wireless Service Exemption Form". You must remember that as a general rule the phone must not be used for personal calls. The University recognizes that there are very rare unforeseen circumstances when you might receive an incoming call or an emergency when it is impossible or unreasonable to use a University landline telephone, public pay phone, or personal phone. However, the University must ensure compliance with IRS regulations, and therefore you and your department are required to maintain detailed and auditable records of all wireless service calls. To do this you must itemize the monthly bill documenting the business purpose of each business related call, and listing each personal call on the bill each month after it is received. The Department's records will be periodically audited. Employees are required to promptly reimburse the University for any personal calls within 30 days of the receipt of the monthly bill as described below.
I never go over the base plan minutes. Why would I need to pay for any personal calls?
IRS rules say that personal calls that are included in the base plan must be documented and reimbursed, or reported as wages. The amount is prorated based on the percentage of personal minutes against the total minutes used.
How do I calculate the cost for personal calls (a pro rata share) on my University wireless service plan?
The following are two examples for calculation of personal call reimbursement:
Example 1: You have a 600 minute plan that costs $40.00. You only use 300 minutes, but 30 of those were personal. Your total bill is $40.00. Use this formula: 30/300 x $40.00 = $4.00.
Example 2: You have a 600 minute plan that costs $40.00. This month you made calls totaling 650 minutes. Your total bill is $57.50. Of those minutes, 30 were for personal calls. You should pay 30/650 x $57.50 = $2.65 for personal calls.
How are unlimited night and weekend, and free mobile to mobile minutes calculated in pro rata share?
Although night and weekend and free mobile to mobile minutes may be included in the plan, University owned cell phones plans are still restricted to business use only. In the rare unforeseen circumstances when personal calls may occur using night and weekend or mobile to mobile minutes these minutes should be included in the reimbursement calculation as described above.
My workgroup has a contract in place with special cell phone features and plan that we need for our team. Can we keep that plan in place and still have SOU pay for the plan?
Yes, but the policies related to requesting and getting approval for an exemption to the University Wireless policy apply.
How do I calculate reimbursements for the occasional high volume of business calls (a pro rata share) on my personal wireless services plan?
The following are two examples for calculation of business call reimbursement:
Example 1: You have a 500 minute plan that costs $40.00. You only use 500 minutes, 300 minutes of the calls were personal and 200 minutes were business. Your total bill is $40.00. Use this formula: 200/500 x $40.00 = $16.00 is your reimbursement.
Example 2: You have a 500 minute plan that costs $40.00. This month you made calls totaling 650 minutes. Your total bill is $80.00. Of those minutes, 400 were personal calls, 250 were business. Use this formula: 250/650 x $80.00 = $30.77 is your reimbursement.