Cornell University Wireless Initiative


January 2015, WBG was engaged by Cornell University to help facilitate a new wireless initiative on campus. One that called for greater cost controls and established a new set of protocols for the purchase and use of wireless services and devices.

Challenges associated with the proposed changes:

  • Identify and consolidate hundreds of accounts into four primary accounts – creating a more centralized approach to managing Cornell’s wireless services.
  • Work with the University to develop and institute a new Wireless Policy that could be applied uniformly across all departments.
  • Once the new policies were established – effectively communicating those policies, not only to the employees, but also to the carriers, including their retail outlet(s).
  • Remove reimbursements as an option for employees using a personal phone for business.
  • Through account consolidation, identify a new set of voice, data and text rate plans.
  • Identify “0” use lines and eliminate.
  • Limit the number of employees who had the authority to purchase devices and service.


  • Consult with Cornell to understand the scope of the project and to map out strategies for achieving the end result.
  • Identify carrier contacts – from sales, to customer support to engineering and establish protocols for interacting with each. University “Points of Contact” limited to a small number of users.
  • Weekly conference calls with the carriers’ teams concerning cleaning up the accounts (i.e. removing University contact names on the accounts, adding new names) and to outline what would be considered acceptable in the future respective to devices, plans, insurance, and features. Request carrier reports identifying any line/number directly or in-directly affiliated with the University’s wireless profiles. Filter through the reports to determine the types of devices (i.e. Smartphones, iPads, MiFi units), the current rate plans, the types of features and the associated Cost Centers.
  • Review the historical usage (voice and data) for lines approved for migration to a central corporate account and also identify other means for reducing Cornell’s cellular expense (i.e. “zero use” lines).
  • Negotiate a new set of rates and equipment offerings based on the aggregated use of all lines.
  • Once the new rate plans were finalized, request the carriers create new accounts and establish the appropriate plan structure(s). Request elimination of numbers no longer needed.
  • After the first bill cut, provide a full bill analysis to insure the accounts and rates are set up properly. Provide the Procurement Office with the first full set of analytics – including a dashboard noting expense by category (i.e. voice services, data services, equipment, roaming and long distance, subscription charges, ancillary charges, credits, etc.).
  • Work with Cornell/Procurement Office to develop a new set of policies and procedures capturing the overall initiative.
  • Communicate the new set of protocols to University employees – including on-site sessions/meetings with employees, email updates, updating the Telecom intranet site and making ourselves available for calls, etc.
  • Equipment Ordering Portal: With input from Cornell, create an “Equipment Ordering Form”/portal – that requires two levels of authorization (per the University) before a requested device can be ordered and shipped to an end-user.


  • Projected annual savings of $1.3 million.
  • The Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) dropped from $62 a line to $32.45 (as last reported – January 2016 review).
  • Significant reduction in the number of corporate accounts.
  • Elimination of stipends. This also eliminated the accounting associated with stipends.
  • Orders submitted through the Equipment Ordering Portal are processed in a timely and efficient manner – resulting in less down time for end users with broken/defective equipment and resulting in a reduction in administrative time tied to equipment requests/orders.
  • Ancillary charges, unnecessary features removed from all accounts.
  • By paring down the accounts and by eliminating corporate credit cards payments to the carriers (the original methodology for many departments), additional administrative time has been eliminated.
  • By centralizing accounts through the Procurement Services Office and limiting accounts – the review process has been stream-lined and simplified. We hold monthly conference calls with the Procurement Office to review the prior month’s invoices, to review the statistical data and to discuss future wireless initiatives the University plans to undertake in the future.