Connect: CMU Cellular Services, a CMU-specific set of mobile phone plans offered through the Office of Information Technology, gives students different options on discounted phone services and cellular devices.
The program partners with big name carriers AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, to help students at the university keep the provider they already have, but at a cheaper rate.
“The discount is huge,” said Josh Simon, manager of mobile device administration and support. “The structure is much different, so it is hard to put a discount amount on it, but if you compare a plan that CMU can offer and a plan that is comparable that Verizon offers, the discount is somewhere around 35 to 40 percent (less).”
Simon said approximately 2,000 people are enrolled in cellular services through their office, includes students, staff, faculty and alumni.
Users interested in the program can sign a contract with CMU, not with the actual carrier. There are no required activation fees or deposits involved with the university program. Plans include call minutes, messaging, data and bundled packages from the three carriers.
The most popular of the plans is the Verizon America’s Choice 400 PDA Plan. According to plans published on the Connect website, this plan features a 5GB data plan, in addition to 400 minutes and unlimited text messages for $54.48 per month.
The discount is based on of the Verizon “More Everything” 2 GB plan.
Simon said the difference between the two plans is CMU’s requires picking a minute amount, whereas the Verizon plan, not offered through the university, requires picking an amount of data. The CMU plan gives users a savings of approximately 39.5 percent.
Connect also carries, or can order, almost any phone or device found in the corporate cellular stores, including IOS devices, with the iPhone being the most popular.
Paul Ulreich, Verizon PR Manager for Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky, said there is not much difference between the corporate Verizon store and the CMU Connect store.
Ulreich said with such hard economic times, students should take advantage of any discount available.
“I would absolutely suggest students go to the Connect CMU store, because they can get a special, negotiated rate,” he said. “I was in college once, I know every penny matters.”
The CMU Cellular Services office, located next to the Woldt Computer Lab, provides the same customer services as most cellular provider stores, including support, repair and help with other technical issues.
Services and plans for tablets, netbooks and mobile hotspots are also available in addition to the devices themselves.
“We are located on campus, so the students on campus do not have to leave campus to get service or support,” Simon said. “Another big piece is billing goes right to the student’s or user’s account, right here on campus, so they can pay the same way they would pay tuition and other charges.”
Users can have one to five different lines depending on their plan. There are close to 4,000 active lines.
The program began in 2003 and began to grow in popularity around 2010.
Officials have also seen growth in the past few months, Simon said. Since April, there has been a 78-percent increase in accounts.
Kole Taylor, communications manager for Information Technology at CMU, is happy to help bring the service to CMU, as a way to provide service to students at a cheaper rate.
“Any dollar we can save CMU students, that’s all the better,” Taylor said. “We are providing something they need.”