Landline phone use declines


 “Mr. Watson, come here, I want you!” That was the first telephone conversation by Alexander Graham Bell on March 10, 1876.

 Those words started a revolution in communication, and Bell could not have imagined where his invention would lead.
The telephone has evolved into portable devices that connect us to the world. Almost every American home has a phone, whether wired or wireless.

 Most colleges, including Western, provide landlines for campus residents.

 Carolyn Froman, telephone services coordinator at Western, explained the locations of phones on campus. “We provide a phone line in approximately 1200 rooms in residence halls,”  Froman said. According to Froman, each line costs $12.25 per month, which is included in the residence halls fees. That adds up to almost $15 thousand every month.

 “Even though most students have cell phones, we will still provide the phone service in every room because of safety reasons. If a student has a dead battery in their cell phone and they need to call emergency services, we want to ensure they can make the call,” Froman said.

 Northwest Missouri State University also provides a phone line in all residence halls.

Steve Chor, with telephone services at Northwest, explained how the payments work.

 “The state of Missouri provides the service and we pay $14 per month per line,” Chor said.

 According to Chor, Northwest surveyed all students that live on campus, and 30 percent responded.

 Of the 30 percent, 80 percent said they do use the phones provided in the rooms; that is a sharp contrast to Western.

Michael Speros, Western’s director of housing and residential life, explained the status of phone usage on campus.

 “In a general sense, there are a lot of students who do not use them,” Speros said.

Hanna Taylor, a senior in nursing, does not use the phone line in her room in Beshears Hall. “I don’t need it, I have a cell phone. I don’t even have a phone plugged in,” Taylor said.

 William Gray introduced pay phones in 1889 in Hartford, Conn. The popularity of cell phones has reduced the number of payphones nationwide.

 According to the American Public Communications Council and AT&T, today there are 2.2 million payphones, down from 2.6 million in 1998.

 Local calls on pay phones also have dropped 30 percent since 1998.

 Phones provided in residence halls and cell phones along with the courtesy phones on every floor of every building have eliminated the need for pay phones on campus.

Currently two pay phones remain on Western’s campus while Northwest has none.

As the telephone industry evolves, perhaps one day we will see the end of landline phones.

Only time will tell.

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