Making the switch

Sep 202006
Authors: Zach Snively The Rocky Mountain Collegian

On any given day it’s easy to spot hundreds of students with a cell phone glued to their ear. Many students even claim they can’t live without them in today’s fast-paced world. An explosion of cell phone use has even led some colleges around the country to remove landlines from their dorms and go wireless-only.

At CSU, however, no such plans to do away with landlines currently exist. The primary concern: safety.

“Cell phones are hard to trace,” said Pat Burns, CSU’s associate vice president for information and information technology. “By keeping landlines, a 911 call can be traced quickly and easily.”

He explained that if someone was hurt in one of the towers, the 100 meter or so tracking ability on cell phones would not be adequate to get help to the person in trouble quickly.

This, he said, could be a “huge problem.”

Officials at Northern Colorado talked about removing landlines from their dorms, but like CSU, also cited safety as the chief reason for keeping their ground lines.

But not everyone, especially those from colleges that have removed their landlines, give the safety concern merit.

“Safety is a ludicrous reason not to use cell phones,” said Jean Boland, vice president for information technology services at Morrisville State. “Phones have GPS trackers in them, and people are more than likely going to have their cell phone on them when in trouble than be able to make it to a landline.”

The New York college issues cell phones to all incoming students. The policy is one that embraces technology, Boland said.

“This gives students more freedom, they can call friends or family anytime they need to from wherever they are on campus,” he said.

On average nine out of 10 incoming college freshmen in the U.S. have a cell phone when they arrive at school in the fall, according to

Burns stressed that only a handful of colleges nationwide have made the conversion to wireless-only.

Tonie Miyamoto, communications director for Housing and Dining Services at CSU, said that landlines give students a cheaper alternative to cell phones. She also added that international students often don’t have cell phones and need landlines to make calls.

But just like at UNC, the topic of removing landlines from the dorms has come up at CSU, and will be discussed in the future, Miyamoto said.

But whatever is ultimately decided, it’s clear students are increasingly floating away from landline use altogether and moving toward wireless. It’s a trend that officials from both CSU and UNC acknowledge.

Ryan Price has never even used his landline phone to make calls.

“Qwest requires it for getting Internet service,” the senior said. “I don’t even know the number. Because I have a cell phone it just seems like a waste of money.”

Staff writer Zach Snively can be reached at

Wireless Quick Facts:

U.S. wireless subscribers at year-end 2005: 207.9 million

Wireless penetration: 69 percent of U.S. population

Wireless-only households: 6 percent of U.S. households

Jobs: More than 233,000 direct carrier jobs

Wireless Providers: More than 180 facilities-based carriers

Total annual wireless revenues: $113.5 billion in 2005

Annual minutes used: 1.5 trillion

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