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Cell Phone Quick Reference

Does Northwestern University offer discounts for cellular service plans?

Yes. Northwestern offers discounts for most major cellular service plans through the WildCARD Advantage. The WildCARD Advantage is a discount program, solely offering independent vendors who are not affiliated with the University the opportunity to provide deals and promotions to Northwestern faculty, staff, and students.

Certain schools and departments may have recommendations on a particular carrier. Consider discussing your options with the local IT support for your school or department.

Where will my cell phone work on campus?

Major cellular service providers including AT&T, Sprint/Nextel, T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, and Verizon maintain cell towers to provide cellular services in Evanston and Chicago. Northwestern Information Technology (IT) partners with service provider to implement a Distributed Antenna System (DAS) in some campus locations.

Northwestern IT neither endorses nor recommends any cellular phone vendor or service. Call quality may vary based on the individual cellular provider and is not controlled or managed by Northwestern IT.*

*It has been reported that users with cell phones defaulting to AT&T’s 4G service have experienced intermittent service on campus. Users experiencing any degraded service quality should contact their carrier directly.

What features should I consider when buying a cell phone?

Choosing a mobile phone typically requires a series of tradeoffs in terms of features and prices. Features such as larger displays, color display, and wireless Internet capability raise prices. Before shopping, consider how you plan to use the device and evaluate which features are most important to you. For detailed information on determining which features fit your needs, refer to Mobile Phone Features and Manufacturers.

How do I choose the right service plan for my needs?

Typically, you will select a service provider before you pick out a phone, since different handsets only work with specific networks. Some factors to consider when purchasing a service plan include:

Where can I buy a mobile phone?

There are several mobile phone vendors in the Chicago and Evanston areas. Rate plans and offerings change frequently, and service availability levels vary in the Evanston area. Typically, you choose a carrier before selecting a phone. Carriers often include free or discounted phones when you subscribe to their service.

Northwestern IT neither endorses nor recommends any particular vendor. The following links are provided for your convenience:

Where can I learn more about cellular coverage in the Chicago area?

Cellular carriers create nationwide coverage maps that are searchable using an address or location parameter to assist its current and future customers in locating areas of existing coverage.

These maps are by no means 100% accurate but they can provide an idea of what quality of service you can expect to receive in a specific area before purchasing products or signing contracts.

Last Updated: 28 March 2017

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