Telephone Services


Contract Phones vs. Pre-Paid/No-Contract Phone Service
In the U.S., most mobile service and phone selection is limited by carrier/company.  Each major company (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile) typically offers a number of phones, some of which are exclusive to their service.  The phones are offered at a discount if you agree to a contract, usually a 2-year service agreement.  So, while you may get a cheap phone, the service is locked, which is not good for international students and scholars who do not plan to be in the US longer than 2 years. Furthermore, to qualify for a contract phone at a discount, you usually have to be able to provide a Social Security Number at the time that the contract is set up, which may be a problem for some students.

Alternatively, there are many Pre-Paid/No-Contract options.  With this, you either provide your own phone or purchase a phone according to the service you would like.  Pre-Paid options are often very cost effective, and they allow you to purchase service as you need it, rather than for a long period of time.

As you explore your options, please compare costs of Contract vs. Pre-Paid options.

Cellular Phone Store Locations
Most major wireless phone service providers are available in Tuscaloosa. You can find most of these phone providers at the University Mall, Wal-Mart, Target and other locations around the city.

Specialized Plans for International Students and Scholars
There are a few companies which offer specialized no-contract plans that are specifically designed for international students, scholars, and dependents.


Telephone Service is provided by local and long-distance telephone companies. Local Telephone companies provide local and regional telecommunication services; long-distance companies provide national and international services. The local telephone company that serves our area is AT&T.

To connect local telephone service to your room or apartment, you will need to call AT&T at 1-888-757-6500 or online at Service and financial arrangements are made in the name of only one resident, even when two or more persons are sharing the room or apartment.

The costs for local service vary depending on the options you choose but average $25-40 per month. A one-time installation charge is also customary. You must provide your own telephone, which you can purchase at many general stores.

AT&T usually asks for a Social Security Number when you are connecting telephone service for the first time. For instructions on how to apply for a Social Security Number, please see our section on Social Security Numbers. Long Distance telephone companies are listed in the yellow pages of the phone book. There are many companies who provide long distance services and each offers different rates and service packages.

On-Campus: If you live in an on-campus residence, you should contact Student Telecommunications at 348-9555.