Wireless telephone service is available for state use under certain circumstances. It is important to understand the subscriber's requirements and know that monthly air service plans and coverage areas differ among wireless vendors.
There are criteria for user eligibility and an established approval process that must be followed before wireless telephone services are purchased or rented. Each agency is responsible for assuring that eligibility, approvals, usage, and billing are appropriate and correct.
There are multiple state contracts in place with a number of wireless vendors for wireless telephone service. Agencies may work directly with vendors to determine needs and select appropriate equipment and service.
Some wireless vendors may offer special service and equipment pricing for state employees. Interested employees should contact the wireless vendors directly for further discount information and requirements.
Wireless telephone service is not all the same. The quality of service may vary. Coverage areas (where a subscriber can make and receive cellular calls) will vary from vendor to vendor. The availability of features and options and how they work will differ with various vendor offerings.
The cost of wireless telephone service is based on a monthly subscription charge, minutes of usage, and charges for other features and services. There may also be additional charges for using the service when traveling outside of a "home area" (daily roaming and per minute charges), for making long distance calls, and for being provided a monthly call detail report which lists information about each individual call made and received. Charges are rolled into a single monthly charge and may include some number of minutes, roaming, long distance calling, caller ID, voice mail, and other features. Different air time packages are available at different prices depending on quantities of minutes desired and features included. Vendors may have pooled minutes service plans whereby multiple subscribers at a single billing address and account number can share minutes per month. Wireless handsets may be purchased and, along with other accessories, may be priced separately or be included in an initial package plan. Wireless telephone numbers are usually unlisted.
When selecting a vendor and the particular wireless service required, careful consideration should be given to a number of factors. It will be important to know the geographic area normally traveled by the subscriber and any particular feature requirements that the subscriber may need. (Note: Some vendor service area coverage maps may not accurately reflect service conditions in particular areas. And, coverage areas may change as vendors expand or realign service. Actual usage experience in required subscriber travel areas is the best way to confirm coverage.) With this information in hand, comparisons can be made for each vendor for service coverage area, the availability of service when traveling out of the vendor's service area, the availability of features and services, and the availability and cost of equipment. The overall cost of service can then be calculated and evaluated. Finally, the agency may select the vendor and service which best meets the subscriber's particular needs.
Agency-provided wireless telephone service is not intended for personal use. It is for official state business and is to be acquired and used only after receiving specific, written approval from an authorized source. Guidelines have been established which help determine if a request for wireless telephone service will be approved. Favorable consideration will be given to a request for wireless telephone service when the use of the service relates to life or death situations, personal safety, or when a bona fide business case can be made which requires wireless telephone service. The request for wireless telephone service must indicate that the use of alternative means of communicating have been considered and are less economical, impractical, or unavailable. Wireless telephone service is pre-approved for department secretaries, elected officials, university presidents or chancellors, and one executive level assistant to each.
Before acquiring wireless telephone service or equipment for those not pre-approved, an agency or university needs written approval. Approval may be granted from one of two sources. Authorization may be granted by a department secretary, university president, or chancellor who has received specific, written delegated authority from the OTM Director. If a delegation has not been issued by OTM, authorization must be recommended by the OTM Director for final approval by the Commissioner of Administration. The same eligibility requirements must be met regardless of the approval source.For details, click here.
Once approval is confirmed, each agency and subscriber must determine wireless telephone usage requirements for that subscriber. This includes the approximate number of minutes to be used each month, the area of travel where service will be required, and the features and functionality of the service to be acquired.
State wireless contracts are available and have been structured to permit state agencies to work directly with contract vendors. Vendor personnel will be available to assist agencies in determining usage requirements, coverage area, and other alternatives that the vendor has available to best meet subscriber needs. Before making a selection, it would be prudent to contact several vendors to help determine which vendor's service best meets agency needs for a particular subscriber.
Additionally, contacting several vendors directly may reveal recent contract changes and limited, special offers. For example, vendors may occasionally offer short-duration promotions. For those promotions and based on a vendor request, the Office of State Purchasing may make a change to the contract to offer promotional items for a one month or more period of time. Promotions may include price reductions, two-for-one purchases, a low cost or no cost addition for introductory service items, or other benefits over and above usual contract offerings.
How to Order
There are a number of state contracts with several vendors from which an agency may choose to procure wireless telephone equipment, services, and accessories. After gaining approval to acquire service and then reviewing and considering subscriber needs and various offerings, an agency may choose the service with the best price and usage package/plan which meets the subscriber's requirements. A purchase or release order with the appropriate contract item numbers must be prepared and presented to the vendor. The vendor or Office of State Purchasing personnel can assist with identifying contract numbers and other ordering information.
At the time of order, it will be necessary for the agency to provide the vendor with a copy of the approval authority's documentation in order to acquire cellular service or equipment. Whether approval authority is through the OTM Director or from a department secretary, university president, or chancellor (when OTM has delegated such cellular approval authority), the written approval documentation must be provided to the vendor prior to acquisition. Vendors are not able to provide equipment or service without written, authorized approval. OTM furnishes the vendors with the identity of authorized approval authorities and updates the approved list as changes occur.
If available state contracts for wireless equipment and service do not meet a specific business need, it may be necessary to separately bid for the required service or equipment. OTM's approval will be required to acquire telecommunications service or equipment not on a state contract. If a competitive bid is required, approval from the Office of State Purchasing may also be required prior to bidding. When state contracts terminate, it will be necessary to select a replacement cellular provider and issue a new purchase or release order. For contract information, use AGPS or contact the Office of State Purchasing or the OTM Wireless Services section.
Non-State Business Wireless Service for State Employees
The state wireless contracts are for official state business only and are not to be used to acquire wireless equipment or service for personal business. However, while there is not a state-initiated wireless service plan for state employees' personal use, some cellular vendors offer special service and equipment pricing for state employees. As the availability and offers of such plans may vary from vendor to vendor, employees should contact vendors directly in order to determine the availability, service, and cost of employee plans. The vendor may require proof of state employment such as state identification badge or paycheck stub.
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