Faced with the "explosion" of wireless use in the past several years, university and health system officials felt that both a dedicated vendor and administrative oversight were needed for corporate cellular services. Since 1999, the growth rate of cell phone use at Hopkins has been 33 percent a year, according to an enterprisewide audit, with roughly 2,300 separate corporate accounts.
Following a nationwide search that began in early 2001, the university and health system have signed a select-vendor agreement with Cingular Wireless to provide corporate cellular services for the entire Johns Hopkins enterprise.
The three-year contract, which goes into effect Oct. 1, affords to all Hopkins affiliates significantly reduced rates on cellular usage and equipment intended primarily for business. As part of the same agreement, a separate reduced rate for personal cell phone use has also been secured.
In conjunction with the select-vendor deal, a Johns Hopkins corporate policy regarding cell phones has been instituted, and the Office of Telecommunications Services will now serve as the hub for cellular services procurement and billing.
Currently, individual Hopkins departments are dealing with multiple wireless vendors and are being billed directly, an inefficient and unnecessarily costly business practice, says Elizabeth Rodier, director of Telecommunication Services.
"We knew that by not leveraging the combined buying power of Johns Hopkins, we weren't getting the best rates," Rodier says. "By centralizing the approval and procurement processes under one office, Hopkins can now better control costs and services, and make life easier for those with cellular contracts."
When Hopkins employees sign with Cingular, they will receive a free baseline model digital phone; upgraded models can be purchased at a minimum of 25 percent off the normal retail price. A wide range of local and national area calling plans are available, and because Cingular usage fees fall under a "most-favored-nation clause," Hopkins users will always receive the lowest going rates.
"If Cingular offers a lower usage rate to any other corporation or institution, Johns Hopkins will be offered the same," Rodier says. "What this means is that rates will never go up; they can only go down."
Other services and features of the agreement include the following:
Cell-to-cell calls are unlimited and free within the local calling area between Johns Hopkins Cingular users.
Cell-to-campus calls can be made on Cingular corporate telephones by dialing the five-digit extension number to reach users on the Homewood and East Baltimore medical campuses.
There is no charge for retrieval of messages from Cingular Wireless handsets within the local calling area.
Users with a Homewood campus voice mailbox associated with their office telephone may have Cingular cellular messages sent to that mailbox.
Lost or stolen phones will be replaced by Cingular (one per year).
No early termination fees will be charged as long as Hopkins maintains a minimum of 1,700 active lines on the corporate plan.
All plans include call waiting, call forwarding and three-way calling as standard features.
All accessories purchased for Hopkins corporate phones are discounted 25 percent.
As part of the new cell-phone policy, Telecommunication Services will pay the Cingular corporate invoice and then charge the participating departments, as it currently does with billing for regular telephones. Also, the university will reimburse individuals for costs associated with work-related business calls placed on personally owned cell phones.
Hopkins affiliates who currently use other wireless vendors can continue to do so, but as of July 1, 2003, the university will not pay any vendor other than Cingular for monthly-use charges. It will, however, continue to reimburse business-related calls made through other service providers.
For more information about the agreement, go to nts.jhu.edu/telecom.