Less than 1 percent of the roughly 1,800 phones in student dormitories at East Tennessee State University were in use this past school year, and those unwanted land lines have been removed, according to the school’s housing director.
“Most of the other institutions in the state ... have taken the phone lines out,” said Bonnie Burchett, ETSU director of campus housing and resident life.
Burchett said students use cell phones, tablet computers and programs like Skype for communication now.
“They just have so many ways now to make a phone call,” she said.
Around 3,000 students live on campus during the school year.
Governor’s Hall, one of the newer dorms on campus, had VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) phones but those also were removed.
For the time being, some students who still want a phone will have the lines in place, but even those will be removed within a year, Burchett said.
Courtesy phones and desk phones will be installed in the dorms but specific locations have not yet been determined.
Mark Bragg, chief information officer at ETSU, said the school is in the middle of converting the old analog phone system to a digital system that will be more reliable and be able to service computer needs as well as save money.
The old analog phone system now in place costs around $120,000 per year to maintain. Bragg said the school will see a savings but the exact amount will not be known until 18 months from now, when the conversion is complete.
In order to ensure all phones are working, the analog system must remain in place during the conversion.
New buildings will not have to have the old copper phone lines installed, which will save on construction costs moving forward.
“There’s a lot of advantages to it,” he said.
The cost of the conversion will not be a lot up front. Each department pays for phone service already and replacement of phones occurred often anyway, Bragg said.
Without student phones there are now around 4,500 phones on campus.
Burchett said plans are in place to install wireless Internet in all the dorms by the end of next summer.
“The university has a wireless mesh outside, but this will give a boost to connection inside,” she said.
Most of the residence halls have wireless Internet. Four dorms are scheduled to get wireless this summer: Luntsford, Dossett, West and Powell halls.
Carter Hall, the oldest dorm on campus may get wireless next summer. Centennial and Governor’s halls have it. Davis Apartments does not have it, maybe next summer though. Most of Buccaneer Ridge has wireless.