Thursday, December 2, 2021

Students take advantage of wireless communication

August 23, 2001

They’ve become as common around campus as in-line skates and bicycles.

And unlike the latter two, they’re allowed in classrooms, dorms, most restaurants and even nightclubs.

Cellular phones - or cell phones - have sprouted up all over East Lansing. Also known as mobile phones, these popular devices are spotted anywhere from bathrooms to cars to administrative offices to dinner tables.

“The future of communication is wireless, and that will be in the short-term cell phones,” said Mark Levy, chairperson of the Department of Telecommunication.

“They won’t even be called cell phones much longer - somebody’s going to make up a name for them and when they do, then they’ll become famous.”

Cell phone chimes can be heard all over campus..

“It’s crazy,” said Heather Tonda, an audiology and speech sciences senior. “People have them everywhere - they’ll be going off in the library.”

Tonda has a cell phone, but it stays in her car.

“My parents got it for me for emergencies,” she said. “I don’t use it on campus.”

But many students do talk on their cell phones on the way to classes, meetings, appointments or social gatherings.

Theater graduate student Amy Bebensee said she has seen students using cell phones while riding their bikes.

“Every third or fourth time I’m walking to class I’ll see someone on a cell phone,” she said.

Bebensee, who has one herself, said she used it more when she was working full-time because she had more important calls to make.

Journalism junior Kristy Austin said she saw a woman in a car talking on a cell phone and a man on one in a car next to the woman.

“They had been talking and then she said, ‘Roll down your window,’” Austin said. “They were talking to each other.

“My boyfriend actually saw somebody smoking, talking on a cell phone and driving. And you wonder why there are so many cell phone accidents.”

The amount of car accidents involving cell phones has caused the phones to become smaller and easier to handle, local salespeople said. Customers can even purchase a “hands-free kit,” which allows the customer to clip the phone to a belt and stick an earpiece with a microphone into an ear.

Cell phone owners don’t just use them while on the move, but at their destinations as well.

“We had (a cell phone) in class, and the professor had to stop the class and tell the girl to answer the phone and leave the class,” finance junior Lynne Ramming said.

Austin said the phones can be helpful when they’re not ringing.

“My professor asked if anyone had the time and someone checked their cell phone,” she said.

Levy said he isn’t surprised to see so many wireless communicators on campus.

“Students are very much in the lead in adopting new technologies,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it: Students all over the country are increasingly going wireless.

“How students decide to use these new technologies definitely will carry over into the future.”

Because the technology is so new, there are no set rules on how to use it.

“We’re developing a whole set of manners and social customs around this new technology and right now we’re struggling to figure out what the public is comfortable with,” Levy said.

“I think it’s very rude to have a cell phone in class if you’re carrying on a conversation, but it’s not happening in such large numbers in my classes.

“I think the future is definitely a wireless communication future: That means wireless things, whether they’re telephones, notebooks, keypads or communicators like in ‘Star Trek.’ There’s going to be clearly more and more of that. We’re going to have wireless communicators that will have audio and video.”

But cell phones make it too easy to access users at any time.

“I want some of my time,” Levy said. “If people want to get in touch with me, I’ll get the message when I get home.”

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