Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The death of the landline

I'm really not sure how I feel about this:
The dormitories on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus will soon be following the trend of other college campuses around the state in ditching their landline phones.

After an extensive two years of surveying students on their phone usage habits, university officials said that the $400,000 a year to operate the phones isn't necessary. They said that about 98 percent of students rely on their cell phone instead of their free dorm phone.

Paul Evans, director of UW Student Housing, said that the decision was a common-sense choice given students' behavior."It really wasn't a way that we were able to get a hold of students," he said. "We would have to look up their number and half the time, the phone wasn't plugged in. So it became very obvious that it wasn't the phone that students were using."

The school will provide one landline phone per floor for free. Students wishing to have their own private landline may request one to be installed, but they'll have to pay for it themselves.
With all of the recent conflicting information that's been coming out about the reliability of cell phones when it comes to 911 calls, I'm not so sure this is the best idea ever. I do understand the need to cut costs (especially with a legislature that's so unfriendly to funding the universities), but this particular move makes me really uncomfortable.

On an almost completely unrelated note, tomorrow morning I will have the distinct pleasure (and near debilitating nervousness) of chatting with Lee Rayburn over at the Mic, 92.1 FM in Madison for a bit that, I assume, will be aired Thursday morning on his show. I'll know for sure tomorrow and post the definite airtime for anyone who's morbidly curious as to what, exactly, I have to contribute to an otherwise perfectly good radio program.


Daniella Maria said...

thats a little ridiculous. while i don't have a land line myself, people shouldn't be forced to have an expensive cell phone if they don't want it. i wonder how much it costs the university to run the lines. with the massive tuition increases you think they could managed a few hundred bucks so that people can have a reliable phone in case something happens to their cell. oh uw. you are silly.

John A said...

I share your ambivalence on this one. But the pragmist in me says it makes sense, even taking the 911 issue into account. Having a great, working 911 system on land lines does little good if no one plugs in their phones.

If the $400,000 savings were poured into increasing cell reception and 911 pinpointing, this would be a near-no-brainer... but I suspect it's just another $400,000 that will get absorbed into the budget.

Good luck on the radio! Remember, picture all of the listeners naked. Always helps.

Zach W. said...

I see the argument on both side of this issue, and I think having only one landline per residence hall floor seems a little inadequate.

Emily said...

I have to wonder if the phones were plugged in, and then the students came in and unplugged them? Because yeah, like taking the batteries out of your smoke detector, it wouldn't do much good at that point.

But maybe the dorms could have the phones plugged in when students arrive, then do something to encourage students to leave them plugged in?

I don't know, this just strikes me as a bad idea that will come back to bite someone in the ass, hard.

The Lost Albatross