New Mobile Policy puts costs on faculty and staff

(Editor’s Note: The following is part one of a two-part series looking at WCU’s new mobile phone policy. Part one outlines the policy and part two will cover faculty and staff reaction of the policy.)

Today, smart phones for students and professionals seem to be a necessity. They provide access to the web, e-mail, applications, Facebook, Twitter and more. For WCU, a new Mobile Communications Device (MCD) policy has been instated by the University in order to reduce risks of losing or exposing any confidential and protected data to hackers and other harmful programs.

According to a new study from Ball State University, “nearly half of all communication devices on college campuses are smart phones.” Smart phones like the iPhone, Android and BlackBerry phones can be seen all over the WCU campus with students, staff and faculty alike. With the increase of smart phones across all campuses, what does this new policy mean for our campus population?

Brian Dickens, the Lead Tier II Technical Support Analyst and Project major for the MCD Policy, explains, “The policy does not apply to students; it applies to faculty and staff who access their University e-mail accounts via their phones to engage in University related business communications.”

“Student access to Catamount Mail accounts via mobile devices is not recommended or supported.  It is recommended that students only access their Catamount Mail accounts by logging in directly to MyCat and selecting the Catamount Mail tab,” said Dickens.

He also said that if you do wish to access your Catamount e-mail via your phone, he suggests you access it via your mobile web browser.

If any faculty and staff members have their cell phone device configured to automatically receive WCU e-mail messages via their University e-mail account, the new policy requires the device to be registered with the Division of IT (DoIT) by Jan. 17, 2011. Any and all devices not registered by Jan. 17 should expect an interruption of their mobile e-mail service.

There is also a charge for the new policy. The one-time setup cost for BlackBerry is $145 and for devices running Microsoft ActiveSync 4.5 or greater the one-time setup cost is $85. Annual maintenance costs include $35 for BlackBerry phones and $50 for the other Microsoft ActiveSync phones. The maintenance fee for ActiveSync registration will be waived only for the 2010-2011 academic year.

Don’t want to pay those fees? IT Services recommends you visit http://email.wcu.eduon your mobile device to check your e-mail. If you choose this route, you are not subject to the Mobile Communication Device (MCD) Policy and you do not have to register your device.

“Registration is only required if the faculty or staff member wishes to have the University “push” email to their devices,” Dickens said.

For more information on this new policy, costs and questions, visit the E-mail via Mobile Communication Devices website at

Anyone experiencing any type of technical issue is welcome to contact the IT Help Desk at (828)227-7487 or visit the Technology Commons located in the Hunter Library.