What is BYOD?

Over recent years, Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, has been a topic of intense discussion within many organisations developing mobility strategies. As the UK’s largest independent network and telecoms consultancy, TNC has supported over 240 organisations to develop market-leading mobility strategies so is uniquely placed to sum up the current state of the market for BYOD solutions and to set out the market trends in this key area of telecoms expenditure.

The first place to start with this investigation is to define exactly what we mean by BYOD. As with many technology topics, there are often conflicting definitions, so below TNC sets out its definitive view of what constitutes BYOD. As you can see below TNC categorises four types of BYOD.


  • Handset Owner: Corporate
  • Airtime Provider: Corporate
  • Payment: Corporate


  • Handset Owner: Users who are entitled to a corporate device/handset may substitute a personal device. Users who aren't entitled to a corporate device/handset may also use a personal device/handset.
  • Airtime Provider: Users who are entitled to a corporate SIM may substitute a personal SIM. Users who aren't entitled to a corporate SIM may also use a personal SIM.
  • Payment: Typically, corporate pays for corporate and personal pays for personal. Sometimes corporate may pay for personal if substituted for corporate device.


  • Handset Owner: As ALLOW
  • Airtime Provider: As ALLOW
  • Payment: As ALLOW, but corporate will offer some users payment options e.g. stipend and/or re-bill


  • Handset Owner: Personal
  • Airtime Provider: Personal
  • Payment: Corporate will offer some users payment options e.g. stipend and/or re-bill

One fact which we will return to repeatedly through this paper is that BYOD is much more nuanced than many people seem to realise. Many organisations seem to be asking whether they should have a corporate mobility solution *or* BYOD, or whether they should Mandate, Allow etc. In reality, many of these approaches are complementary rather than replacements for each other, meaning that a complex, sizeable organisation may well wish to mix and match corporate and BYOD, and to use a variety of different BYOD approaches in order to deliver optimised mobility solutions to its users.

While we are talking definitions, we should also touch on Choose Your Own Device (CYOD), and Corporate Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE) approaches.


In this approach the organisation continues to use a corporate mobility approach but allows users to make a choice of device (often from a limited pre-selected list) rather than being issued with a default standard device. The logic of this approach is that allowing users to choose a device gives some of the freedom of BYOD without the complexities we will explore later in this paper, whilst also allowing users to reflect their personal preference.


Similar to CYOD, the idea of this approach is to provide users with a corporate device, thereby avoiding the complexities of BYOD, but also to open up the functionality of the device to allow utilisation of non-corporate functions such as music, games, use of the app store etc.

What's good and bad
about BYOD?

We’ve looked at the various approaches in the market, so let’s now get down to the important task of evaluating the pros and cons of each. The best place to start with this evaluation is to consider why organisations are interested in their employees having mobile connectivity. Typically, the objective is to enhance employee productivity and/or safety by providing mobile access to voice and increasingly data services. Organisations typically want to achieve this objective at the lowest cost, whilst maximising functionality, security and the overall manageability of the solution.

Most organisations questioned by TNC stated that they evaluated BYOD as a potential solution to a number of issues:

  • Most organisations find managing and administering their mobile solutions to be a tedious and complex process, made more difficult by the often poor quality of service delivered by the mobile service providers. BYOD is often seen as a way of handing this administration over to the end users, saving both time and money, if administrative roles can be removed
  • Mobility costs are often considerable, and often increasing due to ever-greater usage. BYOD is often believed to be a way of saving money
  • Addressing a perceived issue that users want BYOD

Looking next at the second set of objectives, securing mobility services at lowest cost, whilst maximising functionality, security and the overall manageability of the solution, organisations are also finding issues achieving these using BYOD. The typical issues TNC’s research uncovers include the following:

  • BYOD is unlikely to deliver cost savings. Whilst the headline thought of replacing a corporately-paid service with a user-paid service sounds like it will deliver cost savings, in reality there are many reasons why this is unlikely to be the case. In particular, corporate mobile deals are far cheaper than consumer deals – see TNC’s blog on exactly this topic.
  • Managing the costs of BYOD introduces complexity – for example, if users are expensing usage costs, this can be very labour-intensive, open to fraud, and means an organisation loses the management data it used to get through its corporate mobile billing
  • There is also a HR and morale dimension to consider. Organisations may have to provide corporate devices to some employees because their contract stipulates this, or because they require it to fulfil health and safety standards (e.g. lone workers). There will also be users for whom the mobile device is so critical and so requiring of specific functionality (e.g. field engineers) that they must have a corporate device. There will also be users for whom the corporate device is a source of status – removal of their connections may meet a corporate BYOD strategy, but it is unlikely to be welcomed by the employee, and will likely lead to arguments with managers, special cases being made etc., all of which is time-consuming, lessens the ability to deploy BYOD to the expected level, and is likely to have a negative impact on employee morale
  • To maintain handset security and data integrity, some type of Enterprise Mobility Management capability will likely be required. This carries a cost and a support overhead for the IT department to administer and manage this solution
  • Key numbers are now owned by individuals rather than the company – this could be problematic in the case of sales staff, for example
  • Enhanced risks from more handsets types e.g. unpatched security vulnerabilities
  • Enhanced risks from personal usage (more likely to expose the company to risk through personal usage – Wi-Fi hotspot enablement, visiting higher risk sites, downloading malicious apps, jail-breaking devices, not installing or out of date AV)

Organisations must also seriously consider a third issue, which is the perception that users are demanding BYOD. In reality, TNC’s research finds that what users are usually demanding is a device that allows them sufficient functionality to make their user experience and app utilisation a positive experience and in line with their expectations. This is often a higher priority than having personal control and ownership of the device. In the past, the gulf between standard corporate devices and personal device functionality could be large, with users having an old, unsexy BlackBerry at work and a brand new iPhone for personal use. These days it is commonplace for corporate contracts to specify smartphones with recognised high-end functionality as standard. Therefore, many organisations discover that perceived user demand for BYOD is just that – a perception rather than reality.

What is interesting is that TNC’s research shows a very common evaluation pattern emerging in many organisations. BYOD is initially seen with great enthusiasm as a way of addressing the issues highlighted above, but the more the organisation looks into the detail of what life with BYOD might be like, the enthusiasm wanes.

What role for

Does that mean there is no role for BYOD? Well, actually TNC’s research shows that there *is* a role for BYOD, but as a complementary solution to the corporate deal rather than as a replacement. These use cases include the following:

Some organisations are tightening up their entitlement policies to reduce the number of connections on their corporate solution, and enabling BYOD for other users, allowing a wider group of users to have access to corporate email and data than would be economic if they had to be provided with a corporate connection.

In terms of the BYOD approaches set out earlier in this paper, TNC would define these use cases as primarily “Allow”, whereby the organisation facilitates BYOD but doesn’t fund it. The facilitation would typically include having the user sign an agreement setting out the terms under which they are allowed to participate in the BYOD scheme, covering security, rights over data, handset wiping etc., and would tend to mandate the need for the user to install EMM software.

The other use case TNC’s research shows is allowing BYOD to facilitate users who particularly want to use a particular device, or particularly object to having a work and a personal device, to participate in BYOD. This use case only covers those users who would otherwise be entitled to a corporate connection, and therefore the organisation may be prepared to either pay a stipend or recompense usage costs through expense claims. This aligns to the “Support” model set out in the table above.

Interestingly, where organisations do set up this type of “Support” BYOD policy, user take-up seems to be very low, with most organisations reporting around 10% of eligible users electing to participate in BYOD rather than using the corporate-provided device.


Through this paper we have reviewed the reasons why organisations may be interested to explore BYOD, the different approaches they could take, and the challenges these approaches bring. The main conclusion TNC draws from its research is that most organisations consider BYOD as part of their mobility strategy development. Often, BYOD is initially viewed with great enthusiasm as potentially addressing a number of issues. However, in most cases, organisations ultimately conclude that the challenges of BYOD outweigh the benefits.

However, TNC’s research shows that many organisations do go on to deploy some level of BYOD to address some specific use cases, generally as a complementary solution to their corporate solution, rather than as a replacement. For these organisations, the most commonly deployed form of BYOD uses either the “Allow” or “Support” approach.

TNC is the market leading, independent network and telecoms consultancy. TNC offers a genuinely unique, independent voice in the market, supporting organisations to secure innovative, market-leading network and telecoms solutions, with better contracts, SLAs, technical solutions and lower pricing than they would achieve without TNC’s support.

If you would like to explore how you can gain these benefits for your organisation’s mobility services, or any aspect of your network or telecoms services, why not contact us and find out why over 200 of the UK’s most demanding organisations rely on TNC’s strategic thought leadership.


Other than matters relating to The Network Collective, this research is based on current public information that we consider reliable. Opinions expressed may change without notice and may differ from views set out in other documents created by The Network Collective. The above information is provided for informational purposes only and without any obligation, whether contractual or otherwise. No warranty or representation is made as to the correctness, completeness and accuracy of the information given or the assessments made.

This research does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. Clients should consider whether any advice or recommendation in this research is suitable for their particular circumstances and, if appropriate, seek professional advice.

No part of this material may be (i) copied, photocopied or duplicated in any form by any means or (ii) redistributed without the prior written consent of The Network Collective Limited © 2022

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