UMart offers Sprint and T-Mobile plans

University students, faculty and staff will be able to purchase plans at a 15 percent discount.

by Andy Steinke

The University announced last week that it has partnered with Sprint and T-Mobile to offer discounted cell phone plans through its UMart Web site.

Marcia Habben, director for Sprint in Minnesota, said that with the plan, University students, staff and faculty can get plans through UMart for 15 percent less than they could through another provider.

T-Mobile representatives were unavailable for comment.

Sprint developed six discounted plans especially for University students that have no roaming charges and unlimited long distance and texting on the five most expensive plans, which also offer the most “anytime” minutes.

“On the marketplace, you are going to find plans that have texting included or texting as a part of it,” Habben said. “But they don’t get the other pieces that with it.”

The other plans offered through the UMart Web site, however, are identical to plans found on Sprint’s Web site.

The program is unique, Habben said, because carriers have generally shied away from student bodies in the past because of worries about students being unable to pay their bills.

Sprint already partners with Gophers athletics coaches and is using this program as a way to reach out to University students and staff, Habben said.

University spokesman Dan Wolter said in an e-mail that the University can receive payments from Sprint and T-Mobile for UMart purchases, but was unsure if the University had received compensation yet.

Wolter said UMart’s purpose isn’t to be a revenue generator, but instead a central outlet for people to make purchases, often at discounted prices.

A deal was made with Sprint and T-Mobile because they responded to the University’s request for proposals, he said.

Justin Halverson, of the University’s Academic and Distributed Computing Services department, said a third cell-phone vendor set up an agreement with the University, but hasn’t signed a contract yet.

Verizon and AT&T also provide University employees with service and product discounts, Wolter said.

Ahnalese Rushmann contributed to this report.