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One point of view, taking note of sundry "cool" things that affect-- or could affect-- the education business.

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Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cellies Get Their Campus Phreak On

The campus grapevine is going high-tech. Move over, word-of-mouth virality, and make room for Rave Wireless, a service being launched on fifteen college campuses this year, and shooting for a hundred schools in 2007.

Rave Wireless is a MVNO (Mobile Voice Network Operator), essentially leasing time from the big-infrastructure wireless companies and then launching their own suite of services, handsets, and plans. (Other examples of MVNOs include ESPN, Disney, and Helio, each with their own "hook.")

Rave is designed specifically for an on-campus college student. The service/handset combination includes several student-friendly features, including the ability to pick up and track classwork assignments from a Learning Management System (LMS), instructor-generated push messaging, and handset access to an online gradebook to check out your GPA, with future plans to allow blogging, social networking, and other savory 3G/Web 2.0 snacks. In addition, the handset includes a GPS (Global Positioning System) chip, and a unique capability that is designed to increase campus safety: a student traveling from point A to point B on campus can set a timer for the duration of their trip. Then, if they don't deactivate the timer or make a call, the GPS unit transmits a "distress" call to campus security, and alerts local authorities that there may be a problem. The campus cops can call the cellie, and if they don't get an answer, can scramble fighter planes or whatever to respond to the phone's location.

There are other campus cell services out there, doing everything from notifying students of their grades to notifying them when a dryer is free in the laundry room. But Rave Wireless seems to have the richest set of offerings to date. Sheesh-- add music downloads to the handset on some kind of subscription service like Yahoo or Napster and this thing would probably be close to perfect.

The article, here, on USA Today doesn't mention monthly service fees, but one can imagine that these services carry some kind of premium. But if Mumsy and Daddums are footing the bill anyway ... . Of course, most student phones are adjuncts to some kind of family plan, so Rave, for the moment, probably means students would have to carry two handsets-- one for talking and texting, and another for all the other 3G goodness. But it's not hard to imagine services like these finding their way to the major carriers in the not-too-distant future. Converged data and communication, after all, is the name of the game. And as mentioned above, if a clever carrier adds content, the "Three Cs" will be covered and enrollment would seem to be a slam-dunk.

Cool, huh?

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