August 16, 2006 9:30 AM PDT

Penn State Live offers mobile news service

Pennsylvania State University announced Wednesday that it will use text messages to send news alerts to mobile devices.

The wireless service, called PSUTXT, will officially launch on Aug. 18 and be an expansion of Penn State Live, a news service that counts 360,000 subscribers.

PSUTXT will offer mobile alerts via Short Message Service (SMS) text messages on three topics: campus emergency, sports and concert information. Registration for PSUTXT is available on the Penn State Live Web site.

As with the university's news service, anyone is eligible to subscribe to the SMS service. PSUTXT information, however, will be geared toward Penn State students, faculty and staff, said Annemarie Mountz, assistant director of Public Information for Internet Communications at Penn State.

"For now, we decided to start with those three (topics). It will expand, but we are keeping in mind that people's phone services charge them for text messages. We are going to make sure it's information they really want," Mountz said.

Penn State Live already offers news for both general and campus-related events. People can also subscribe to RSS feeds by category. Since more and more students are using text messaging on cell phones, the extension of news alerts to mobile devices was the next logical step, said Mountz, who manages the Penn State Live site and Penn State's Newswire service.

The PSUTXT mobile alert service is being offered via e2Campus, a Web-based communications technology provided by Omnilert, a mass-communication specialist. The software enables administrators to log in via the Internet, then send mass messages to groups of recipients, ranging in size from the entire user community to a single residence hall or club.

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