University becomes second U.S. site to receive Freefones

Canadian company uses advertising to build revenue for public phones, allowing for local calls to be made for free | July 19, 2004

Students returning to campus this fall will find something new in the Gallagher Student Center—a large, orange, circular phone. Beginning this week, Freefone, a Canadian-based company, is installing telephones in the campus building that provide free local calls. The phones are a new twist on pay phones, although the calls are made for free as a result of Freefone generating its revenue by playing commercials on a video screen built into the phone. This advertising also allows Xavier to have these phones at no cost to the University.

The Gallagher Student Center is only the second site in the United States to receive a Freefone, joining the Florence Mall in Northern Kentucky.

Located across from the student center's welcome desk, the wall-mounted phone is going through a 45-day trial period before the University decides if it should make it a permanent fixture. The phone plays up to an eight-minute loop of advertising, which now includes spots from Xavier and Cincinnati Bell, Freefone’s U.S. partner. Any sound accompanying the advertising is muted when someone picks up the handset.

“Its main purpose is to attract passing traffic so advertisers can get their message across,” says Steve Ferrara, director of operations for Freefone.

These phones are not only free to the University and provide valuable advertising opportunities, but Xavier is also sharing in a percentage of advertising revenues.

The courtesy phones have gained popularity in Canada, taking up residence in high-traffic areas such as shopping malls, hospitals and restaurants. The company hopes to have 14 installed in the Cincinnati area by the end of July and plans to take Freefone to a national level.

For more information about Freefone, visit www.freefone.com.