This fall, almost two years since the University stopped offering landline phones as part of its residence hall services in favor of wireless Internet, six students out of the approximately 4,500 living on campus have requested the landline phone service.
“As you can tell, the demand’s not there,” said David Kloiber, assistant director of Housing and Residential Education. Besides resident assistants, who are required to have landline phones for emergency purposes, about 17 students requested the service last year.
USF stopped providing free landline phone service in residence halls in spring 2007. It had cost USF about $300,000 a year to fund phones in every room on campus, said Lucy Willis, associate director of business for Housing and Residential Education.
Rachel Churchward, an international student majoring in elementary education and Spanish language, is one of the six who requested landline phone service for her apartment in Magnolia. The main reason was to call home — Sydney, Australia.
“It’s so expensive with cell phones,” Churchard said, adding that with a landline phone you don’t have to pay to receive calls.
Churchward’s mother calls her every other day and Churchwards remains in contact with her family through a calling card. She also owns a cell phone for making local calls.
Since cases like Churchward’s were in the minority, the Residence Hall Association and Student Government decided to funnel the money for landlines into wireless access, said Dorie Paine, associate director of Housing and Residential Education.
By March 2008, the residence wireless network was complete. The first $300,000 USF saved from discontinuing the service was used toward the network’s installation, said Christopher Martinez, assistant director/manager of systems and technology for Housing and Residential Education. To purchase the network’s equipment, USF received a line of credit from Cisco Systems, Inc., a major networking supplier, for $1.2 million.
The network should be paid off in three years, Willis said.
“We really wanted to be able to use wireless in the dorms and be able to fund that,” Paine said. She said wireless access was seen as a more attractive option to students than landline phones.
Students who want basic telephone service installed in their dorms must complete and return a basic phone service form to Cheryl Sweat, staff assistant of Housing & Residential Education, and are charged $25 a month, plus a $50 connection fee. The form can be found on the department’s Web site at housing.usf.edu/phone.html. From there, Sweat submits a work request to Information Technology, which takes about two weeks to process. She then e-mails the students their assigned telephone numbers.
To Kloiber’s knowledge, there are no plans to reinstate basic phone service for all on-campus residents.
“Unless something happens to the cell phone market, I don’t think landlines will be prevalent at college campuses within the next few years,” he said.
Paine said that 20 years ago she would never have thought landlines would go away — they were seen as a luxury in college dorms.
“Now we’re back to taking them out again and who would have anticipated that?” she said. “You just don’t know what technology is going to bring or require.”