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USF says hello to wireless world

One wireless company promotes wireless communication as “staying in touch wherever you go.” And by the end of the month, USF students may be receiving text messages through a university service to do just that.

A survey taken by USF’s Information Technologies department found that approximately 90 percent of the USF community uses cell phones and wireless communication. This survey led IT to come up with another process of sending wireless messages, the Short Message Service. This service is a process of sending messages to cell phones, pagers and some palm pilots, which will provide information for events and university news school-wide.

George Ellis, associate vice president for IT, has been working with partner Air to Web to create SMS.

Ellis said that SMS will allow student organizations to send messages about attending meetings or special events. Along with student organization events, the administration will be able to send out messages to the users about school notices, such as school closings. It is also a system that is being used at USF for the first time, and this is the only university in the state that will use it.

“For example if Student Government sent a message to students about a meeting that was at 6 p.m., they could send it out at 5 p.m., and those student users would get the message faster than if sent by e-mail,” Ellis said.

Ellis said the main attraction about the SMS is the vendors.”A student can elect to receive memos from different vendors, like local restaurants or local concerts that will be going on,” he said.

“For example, if a restaurant has specials going on and are not having a busy night, they can send a message to explain, and within an hour have people show up to eat.”

Ellis hopes by the end of the week a link will be on OASIS so students and faculty can register for the messages they are interested in receiving. And by the end of the month he wants to have the service completely operational.

“Students will be able to only register for the things they are interested in,” Ellis said.

The Web site link on OASIS will be where students go to register. The students will be required to provide their cell phone number, service provider and model of the phone and will be asked to accept or decline the options for what type of messages they would like to receive.

“The service does not cost anything for the student, but some cell phone providers may have a charge,” Ellis said. “AT&T, I know for sure, the service is free, and we are working on a deal with Verizon, but that is still in the process.”

Shannon Brewer, a student majoring in nursing, said why limit the use to just cell phones?

“It is a good idea to message people, but don’t discriminate on other methods,” Brewer said.

Brewer said having a system that delivered messages to student’s home phones could be beneficial, as well.

But some students have a different view on the service.

“If the service keeps up with events and parking services doesn’t contact me about tickets, then I think it’s cool,” said Erik Morris, a senior majoring in theater.

Ellis said he hasn’t pushed SMS because he wanted to make sure the program was up to date. He also said that the Weather Channel and UPS have used a similar service send updates on weather and packages.

Ellis said he hopes that other institutions will be interested in the new service and that the service will last.

“I think it is a very popular program and an effective means of reaching people on a moment’s notice,” Ellis said.

  • Contact Stefanie Green at