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Good morning, Colleagues!

 

At Wiley College, we have come to a crossroads. We are trying to decide what the best practice is for providing our resident students  with telecommunications services. While we have been looking at installing an ATA adapter solution (utilizing an analog adapter and controlling the port), we recognize that the solution will enable our students to have access to phones in their rooms, utilizing standard “Family dollar” analog phones.  The main advantage being that we would have the ability to control communications, placing us in a position to  utilize the system as a revenue generating stream.

 

My question…Is there a value to having this service available for our students?

 

I ask based upon these considerations:

1.       While a large majority of our students come to Wiley with cell phones, there are those students who don’t have cell phones and many more who  are not on plans, per se, that allow for  consistent service…that is, they have limited plans and their phones tend to get turned off or numbers changed.

2.       Parents like the idea of having another means of direct communications with their children.

3.       Standard requirements for emergency preparedness requires an extended level of communications. Having phones/list of numbers for each room assigned helps with our ability to track our students.

4.       Having an active phone  number also helps to support the communications component of the retention effort (providing each room has a phone).

5.       Safety and security impact

 

The concerns:

1.       A large majority of students come to school with cell phones;

2.       We are currently paying for telecomm services that are not being fully utilized (ATT)

3.       Installation and maintenance costs  (short and long term)

4.       Total cost vs. usage --  The concern here is will we get our return on the investment?

5.       Many schools are moving away from providing this service due to the cost (current trend analysis found in Kenneth Green’s Campus Computing Survey report 2011)

 

We would really appreciate your thoughts on this issue!

 

 

Nathaniel E. Hewitt, III

Vice President for Information Systems and Technology

Wiley College

711 Wiley Avenue

Marshall, Texas 75670

903-923-2404 (office)

903-263-9630 (cell)

903-927-2672 (fax)

nhewitt@wileyc.edu

Visit us on the web at www.wileyc.edu

 

Wiley College: Home of The Great Debaters

 

 

********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion list can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

Comments

Message from dthibeau@post03.curry.edu

Nathaniel,

 

We added an analog phone jack to every resident hall room in 1995.  At the time we even placed a physical telephone in each room.  At the time, we felt it made sense.  Since then things have certainly changed.  Today, less than 1% of our resident students do not have a cell phone, 20% have a traditional cell, and 78% have a smart phone.  The only change we expect is that the PCT without will get closer to zero, and the PCT with smart phones will approach 100.  Still, we offer FREE access to the dial tone in each resident hall room, with FREE local service for roughly a 50 mile radius around campus.  Less than 5% of the room phones are used during any given semester, and that percentage has dropped each year.  We will continue to support emergency phones around campus, and are contemplating moving away from phone jacks in the rooms replacing them with phones in the lounges.

 

I’ve also responded to your considerations below with some additional food for thought.

 

Good luck with whatever way you decide to go.

 

Dennis Thibeault

CIO, Curry College

 

Most of our students (98%+) have cell phones. Our problem is that we are on a hill, sloping down to the ocean. The reception on various residence halls are very spotty. Because of our poor reception, we have to maintain phone lines into the rooms. God bless, Sam Young Chief Information Officer Point Loma Nazarene University Individualization ~ Achiever ~ Learner ~ Belief ~ Activator ________________________________
We have removed phones but have dial tone available upon request. The annual savings that has been realized will most likely go into buying infrastructure to support our residents' insatiable consumption of bandwidth. As for cell signal, the university has leased rooftop space for years. Sheila Crowe MSU ResNet Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
I should have added the caveat that we don't have many cell carriers up here in the great white northwest, often referred to as "Montanada."
We used to provide free dial-tone to every residence hall room but the resident(s) had to bring/buy their own generic analog phone. About 90% of the students never bothered to connect a phone. This year, we changed the policy so they now have to request a dial-tone and pay a $25 connection fee (just enough to make them consider if they really want it). This is a one-time fee for as long as they reside in that room; there is no monthly charge. This substantially reduced the number of analog phone ports we need to support (and the number of DID numbers we need) and covers our cost for a technician to activate the dial-tone for the ones that need it. So far, everyone seems pleased with the plan. No complaints. Trevor A. Wallis Vice President of Campus Technology Chief Information Officer SOUTHERN SEMINARY 2825 Lexington Road Louisville, KY 40280 Phone: 502.897.4193 Fax: 502.897.4125 twallis@sbts.edu Don't be a phishing victim – Southern Seminary and other reputable organizations will never use email to ask for your password, social security number or confidential personal information.
At Roanoke College we had provided an analog line to which the student could connect a generic phone as part of the telecommunications fee which also covered CATV and Internet connection in the residence hall.  Over three years ago when we moved to VOIP campus wide we made phones optional in residence halls with a $250 deposit for the VOIP phone.  Less then five students out of 1200 requested a phone.  We received no push back even though cell coverage is not 100%.  Note we also kept the telecommunications fee in place.

We used the savings for a 5 year payback on the VOIP system with telephones in all classrooms, intercom broadcast system and unified messaging.  This past summer further savings were realized by moving to SIP trunks for voice.  Through attrition we have also transitioned the telephone staff to networking staff.  

The move has been very cost effective and the transition has been smooth.  Through the entire process we had three staff members total in telecom and networking, originally 2 nontechnical and one technical now we have two technical and one nontechnical.  Roanoke College is 2000 students.

Let me know if you have any questions.

James R. Dalton
VP of IT 
Roanoke College

PS.  Have to love iPads with keyboard/case on these longer emails.

Nathaniel,

We have not generated revenue off telephone service in at least six years.  I am dubious that you'd see a significant return on this investment if you provided it to students.

We used to provide a telephone handset and local calling to all on-campus student rooms (approximately 1,300 beds).  Every student was given a voicemail box.  There was no charge for these services.  In the last few years, we found that most students were unplugging their phones and putting them up on a shelf.  Only a small percentage bothered to initialize their voicemail boxes. 

This past summer we collected all the handsets and turned off the signal.  We did not create voicemail boxes.  Students who want a handset and/or a voicemail box can get one on request.  So far there have been about 150 requests for handsets and perhaps 100 for voicemail boxes.  There are still handsets on each floor in the hall and in the RA/Hall Director offices, plus the emergency phones across campus.   There have been a few requests where the parent says "please give my child a phone" but the student says "no, I don't want it."  They're adults; they make the decision. 

Cel signals are variable depending on the carrier and where the callers are.  Some of the newer, LEED-friendlier buildings (ex. triple-insulated glass) seem more problematic for cel service.  I've been contacted by a few parents who encourage us to install cel signal repeaters.  I have had to tell them that such repeaters are carrier-specific and we'd need at least one per building, at an unsupportable cost. 

Good luck!

David
_____________________________________________________________________
David W. Sisk    Associate Director for Administration, Information Technology Services
Macalester College    /    1600 Grand Avenue    /     Saint Paul, Minnesota  55105-1899
http://www.macalester.edu/~sisk/                Voice (651) 696-6745,  FAX (651) 696-6778


Nathan,

 

We have all of the University’s telecommunications (campus networks and unified communications) rolled into a recharge operation.  We charge for both phones and ports.  This permits us to provide services to all campuses, respond to routine (not new construction) growth and provide routine lifecycle replacement of all in-scope equipment.  Our residence halls are part of this environment and every dorm room or apartment has a single analog line with voicemail and a wired port that is charged to our Residence Life organization which establishes residential rates for student tenants.  That is, these costs are not billed directly to students, but rather bundled into the rate structure.

 

Our Residence Life group approached us last spring asking to evaluate use of the analog lines with the intent to remove them as a cost-saving effort if they could.  The issues that others here have noted were all discussed (safety, parents, etc.).  In the end, Residence Life polled parents and they received overwhelming feedback that parents wanted to retain dorm phones so that they had certain communication with their students.  This was despite the fact that an overwhelming number of residence students had mobile devices.

 

So Residence Life has temporarily tabled their plans and will re-evaluate next spring again.  The issue for my organization is that a rapid loss of phone lines from our telecommunications recharge operation would cause a problem to our current relatively stable rate base calculation.  Now that we’re aware of the possibility of this loss in the near future we are taking steps to minimize its potential impact.

 

Rich Whitney.

 

____________________________

Richard A. Whitney, Ph.D.

CIO/VP Information Technology

University of Alaska – Anchorage

907-786-4754 (o)          907-360-7755 (c)

rich.whitney@uaa.alaska.edu

http://cio.uaa.alaska.edu

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