Although Miami University’s campus is packed with cell phone users sending a storm of texts, running out of minutes and subjecting cellular devices to various forms of damage, phones and wireless service plans are available through only two locations in Oxford, neither a direct store of a major provider.
One of them is located in Miami’s own Robertson Hall. The Office of Telecommunications offers students phones and plans through IT Services (IT), according to Cathy McVey, director of strategic communications and planning.
“We have a contract with Cincinnati Bell Wireless where we buy a large pool of minutes and then re-sell that,” McVey said. “So any faculty, staff or student can purchase service through the university.”
Plans purchased through IT Services run from $15 to $100 per month, including four packages of minutes and texting capabilities. In 2008, 1,650 faculty and staff purchased personal wireless service through the university as well as 300 students. Eight hundred plans were sold to academic and other university departments, according to McVey.
“Because we buy a pool of minutes and re-sell to individuals or departments, you don’t have to purchase a contract, it’s month-to-month,” says McVey.
Despite the convenience of on-campus sales and service, Cincinnati Bell is far from the most popular service provider. In January 2008, in a test of the university’s text messaging system, IT Services conducted a survey on students’ service providers. Of the 3,322 emergency texting system users who responded, 52 percent used Verizon. AT&T came in at second with 15.8 percent, Cincinnati Bell served 11.4 percent and 10.6 percent were Sprint customers.
However, none of these providers have a company-owned store providing phones and plans within 10 miles of Oxford.
Other than IT Services, the only wireless retailer is Cellular Connection, an authorized Verizon dealer located on College Corner Pike. This store sells wireless plans and phone accessories, such as headsets and hands-free devices.
“You can do anything in our store you can do in a Verizon direct store, the only difference is that if you buy a phone through us, we have to have it shipped to you instead of you getting it in the store,” said Courtney Sizemore, manager of Cellular Connection.
With a large chunk of Miami students holding Verizon-serviced phones, Miami makes up a large part of the store’s clientele.
“I would say during the seasons when school is in, about 75 percent of our business comes from college students,” Sizemore said. “We don’t see many of the locals during the school year.”