Cingular settles into Connelly

Ryan G. Murphy

Cingular Wireless has found a home on the University campus. On Jan. 13 the wireless provider moved from its temporary setup, consisting of folding chairs and tables inside Kennedy Hall, to a more permanent location in the Connelly Center.

This relocation marks a recent agreement between Cingular and the University in an effort to extend wireless service across campus. In the next few years, the University hopes to replace its traditional land lines with Cingular wireless service.

According to Bob Mays, director of network communications and University liaison to Cingular, an exhaustive study of Verizon, Nextel, AT&T, Sprint and Cingular was conducted in an attempt to select which would be most suitable.

“Our primary concern was what was best for the students,” Mays said. “Considering cost, minutes, service and convenience, Cingular came out on top.”

Cingular and the University both saw Villanova’s Connelly Center as a natural fit to house the wireless provider. The store is located on the bottom floor next to another new addition, the Reel Divine video store.

“We chose Connelly because of all the student activity in the area,” Mays said.

The collaboration between Cingular and the University is beneficial to both parties. As part of the agreement, students, faculty and staff receive a 17 percent discount on calling plans.

Cingular aims to attract more customers with the move. “Our hope is that with a permanent place on campus, and by offering reasonable plans, students will choose Cingular,” Jane Slivko-Ament, a marketing representative for the wireless provider, said.

In October 2003, Cingular was met with complaints by some students, who reported that their phone service on campus was poor. “The service used to be bad,” senior Guardin Sosa said. “On West [campus,] I would need to have the phone near the window to make a call.”

These service problems wound up persuading Cingular customers in other directions. “I switched services because the service was so bad,” senior Lesley Maffetone said.

However, over the past few months, Cingular has put up a number of temporary cell sites referred to as COWs (Cells on Wheels), which serve as cell phone towers in order to remedy the service problem. Permanent towers are in store for the future.

“Since putting up the cell towers, our engineers did a thorough walk of the campus and tested reception in various locations,” Slivko-Ament said. “The review indicated that service has been much improved.”

“Since the towers have been put up, I’ve gotten better reception,” Sosa said.

While a noticeable improvement has been made, some students are still searching for service. “I still can’t get reception in Bartley,” senior Kelly Neill said.

With the towers in place, Mays and Slivko-Ament both anticipate better student response to the quality of reception.

The Cingular Wireless store in Connelly is open from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday.