Colleges no longer offering landline phones in residence halls

Rotary Phone in Ti Couz

Landline phones in college dorm rooms are quickly becoming one of those moments in time that will be featured in period films decades from now.

Being a freshmen in 2011 is a much different experience than 1952. Back then writing letters and the occasional phone call (most likely on a shared phone within your dorm) were your main forms of contact with the outside world. Now almost all college freshmen have cell phones, Skype and other phone services that allow them to call anyone at anytime.

There was a time when students had to line up to make calls via landline phones if they wanted to talk to family or significant others back home. In later years, freshmen were greeted with a landline phone and a phone call calling card when they came to campus. Just 10 years ago that was the primary way many students contacted their families back home.

But today landlines don’t make sense for most people, especially wired college freshmen. A landline phone is significantly worse from a usability experience, and that’s the primary reason that people are getting rid of them (and who needs two numbers and two bills anyway?). Try to imagine a time when your phone wasn’t something that was always on you, but rather someone that was tethered to a wall in your home.

Students can use cell phones, voip services such as Skype and other options. Better options. Cheaper, better, more usable. That’s the march of technology.

But that’s not the primary reason schools are getting rid of them. Why spends thousands or more on something that non one uses?

Landlines cost schools a lot of money, and hopefully this money can be put towards better uses. Case Western Reserve University, a small university of under 4,500 undergraduates, will be saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year by getting rid of landlines in dorms. Bigger schools could be saving into the millions by cutting landlines. $18 dollars a line can add up quickly(and that doesn’t include setup costs and other IT costs):

It cost CWRU $18 per phone line per month, so discontinuing service saves roughly $280,000 a year, said Alma Sealine, director of housing.

I would question why a school hasn’t made this switch yet. Why would you keep offering a landline?

$280,000 a year is something that could be put towards improving other aspect of colleges IT. Most colleges still have email systems that are significantly worse than Gmail (how about Google Apps for all?). Maybe better online learning systems. Maybe just pocket the savings.

What do you think colleges and universities should do with these savings?