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January 9, 2003

Cell phones reduce use of dorm phones

Pitt may have to re-assess its phone policy for on-campus residents because of an unanticipated cultural change among students, according to a University official.

Jinx Walton, director of Computing Services and Systems Development, told a Dec. 6 Senate budget policies committee meeting that Pitt students, like their counterparts around the nation, are relying more on cellular phones for their long-distance calls, instead of subscribing to the University’s long-distance phone service, currently contracted with AT&T.

“It’s been publicized in the local papers and in The Chronicle of Higher Education that college students across the country are using cell phones more and more for their long-distance calls,” Walton said. “That’s a pattern we’ve seen here at Pitt.”

Pitt provides free local calls in residence halls, a service subsidized through long-distance charges. “Students are a small fraction of the overall total of about $3 million” in Pitt’s annual phone charges, Walton said. But she added that two academic years ago, students’ phone bills totaled about $200,000. That dropped to about $77,000 last year.

“We’re going to look at the impact [of that decline] for next year. We may have to implement flat rates for local calls,” she said.

—Peter Hart

Filed under: Feature,Volume 35 Issue 9

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