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Campus Council weighs new cable, phone bundle

Campus Council is exploring the possibility of bundling cable television and telephone service fees with undergraduates' room rent, a move that could reduce the cost of a full year of basic cable and phone service from a combined $433 to a little over $100.

Anthony Vitarelli, president of Campus Council, said any bundling of charges would not be mandatory, and that students would be able to opt out of both telephone and cable service and receive at least a partial refund.

"I'm concerned about increasing rent and about making a blatant mandatory increase without a whole lot of student input," he said. "I would not support just a blanket increase without some way to compensate students if they didn't want to pay for cable or phone."

Vitarelli said quad council representatives would be asked to gather student reaction to the idea and would report back to the general council prior to any final decision. The issue was discussed at the Campus Council meeting Thursday but was not voted upon.

The Office of Information and Technology, which provides cable and telephone service to dormitories, could reduce rates because of the increased revenue it would get from more students becoming paid subscribers to its services. Angel Dronsfield, senior director of planning and business strategy for OIT, said the potential elimination of the cost of billing students and collecting payments on a monthly basis could also reduce rates.

About 50 percent of undergraduates subscribe to OIT cable service, Dronsfield said, and a significantly higher number have telephone service. Still, making subscription the default and requiring students to proactively opt out if they do not want service could substantially increase the percentage of students with both cable and dormitory telephone access.

For Vitarelli, more students on the Duke system is a win-win situation. He spoke of an "intangible benefit" of more people having a telephone in their rooms and the advantage of having more students' telephone numbers online.

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