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$20 cell phones

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University of Calgary students can cut their current cell phone bill in half, thanks to a new deal between the Students' Union and Bell Mobility.

In return for exclusive rights to cell phone sales in MacEwan Student Centre for three years, Bell will offer students cell phones at a rate of $22.50 per month for 200 minutes of air time, based on a one year contract.

"The approximate savings is about $240 per year for students and there are additional savings on other incentives," said Bell Mobility Account Manager Kelly Brown. "This is a first in Alberta for Bell."

SU Vice-President Operations and Finance Joel Lockwood arranged the deal, which also includes free voicemail, call display and call waiting, after examining a similar program called Student Phones in Vancouver.

Lockwood explained that he sent proposals to the four major cell phone companies: Telus, Bell, Rogers and Virgin Mobile. Bell offered the best deal and the SU entered into negotiations.

"For a three year contract, we're ensured their prices will always be better than they offer the public," explained Lockwood.

As part of the agreement, Bell will get four weeks of table booking per year and has exclusive rights to advertising and sponsorship in MSC. This means existing advertisements from competitor phone companies, like the Virgin Mobile ads in bathroom stalls, will be removed. Bell will also give the SU $6,000 which will go towards scholarship money.

Lockwood admitted the exclusive deal limits student choice.

"It's a trade-off--not having the choice--but, I think students will appreciate the savings," said Lockwood.

For students who want to shop around before signing a one year contract, other cell phone companies--like Rogers Wireless--also offer financial breaks for students.

"Any student can go into any Rogers with a student card to get Campus Call," said Rogers Marketing Coordinator Cody Nielsen-Smith. "You can call anyone with a Rogers phone from a Rogers phone with no charge. The Campus Call program offers 1,000 long distance minutes between phones as well."

"Students are a very important market because they're going to be the big spenders once they get out of school and into the real world," said Neilsen-Smith.

Students interested in purchasing a Bell phone at the reduced rate can do so at any Bell Mobility store with a valid student ID or visit the Bell table in MSC on Sept. 22 and 23. Students currently using Bell phones can also switch their plans to the reduced rate.

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