Dawgtel will put SIUC on the leading edge

By Gus Bode

The idea of cellular communications has been with us since 1947, and in 1979 the first commercial cellular network went live in Tokyo. The Federal Communications Commission dragged its feet at first, but finally allowed commercial cellular service in the United States in 1982. Demand had been building for some time, and the number of cellular users promptly outstripped the meager bandwidth allowances dictated by the FCC.

Rather than parcel out additional bandwidth, the FCC encouraged the development of new transmission technology within a specified frequency range. Since then, the capabilities of wireless technology have grown explosively as the cellular industry seeks to maximize its operations within the rigid strictures imposed by the FCC.

As the technology has improved, the distinction between phones and computers has become blurred, and our attitudes toward wireless technology have evolved to the point where many of us find it intolerable to be separated from the vast global digital communications network for even a few minutes. Anyone who has recently taken a class that meets in a large lecture hall can verify this.


With the idea of wireless communication so readily accepted, and cellular phones already prevalent on campus, it makes sense to turn this technology to the advantage of the University. Effective communication is crucial to the operation of a complex organization like a college campus, where many people in many roles need access to the latest information.

Dawgtel, a wireless text-messaging venture slated to go live in the fall, could prove immensely valuable in enhancing communications between students and the University. The possibilities are numerous:classroom changes, calendar and schedule updates, assignments, policy updates and safety bulletins could all be communicated quickly and effortlessly to the student population. The University could conduct surveys, or students could vote on referenda, participating in policy discussions while walking to class or lying in bed. Everyone benefits – the University stays in touch with the students, and the students find it more convenient to get involved with campus affairs.

It is also a learning opportunity. The College of Business Administration and Telecommunications intend to develop the service within the University instead of hiring consultants, which will keep costs low.

Nevertheless, costs are a concern. Air2Web should be able to get the service up and running quickly and at relatively low initial cost, but developing our own server could reduce long-term costs and provide flexibility for developing our own applications.

Even though Dawgtel is intended for academic communications, it may be necessary to bring in advertisers, who will be attracted by the low per-message cost. Advertisers are always eager to reach college students, and advertising has a way of seeping into every aspect of our lives, so this should surprise no one.

Irritated by advertising? Don’t worry. If you don’t want text messages from the University, you don’t have to sign up for the service – but if you show up at an empty classroom on a beautiful spring day while everyone else is at the beach, don’t complain if you’re the only one who doesn’t get the message.