Mexico City, Mexico — Bell Atlantic President and Chief Operating Officer Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr., shared Bell Atlantic's vision for the future of telecommunications in a keynote address to hundreds of attendees -- including regulators, government officials, and telecom industry executives -- at Mexico's premier telecom event Expo Comm '99.
Babbio, who is also chairman of Mexico's second largest telecommunications company Grupo Iusacell, pointed to three areas that are key to feeding the world's growing hunger for voice and data services: High-speed connectivity to the mass market, high-speed data connectivity to business customers, and global wireless services.
"Anytime, anywhere connectivity is no longer something from science fiction, it is reality right now," said Babbio. "We are evolving toward a world of interconnected wired and wireless networks feeding data to millions of people through information appliances."
In his speech Babbio noted that, "Every chess player knows the key to the game is establishing a position in the center of the chessboard," pointing to Bell Atlantic's position as one of the globe's largest communications companies based in the world's richest market, the U.S.
Bell Atlantic's wireless portfolio, among the largest and fastest growing in the world, ended 1998 with 8.6 million proportionate customers, proportionate revenues of US$4.6 billion, and spanned 25 U.S. states and high-growth markets in Latin America, Europe, and Asia with a combined total population of more than 400 million.
Bell Atlantic's president outlined targets for the global wireless portfolio for 1999 including total subscribers between 10 million - 10.5 million, operating revenues between $5.2 billion - $5.7 billion; operating income between $950 million - $1.2 billion, and operating cash flow between $1.8 billion - $1.9 billion.
Bell Atlantic's domestic wireless properties, Bell Atlantic Mobile and PrimeCo Personal Communications are two of the U.S.' biggest carriers. Wholly-owned Bell Atlantic Mobile is a $3.5 billion business that ended 1998 with 6.2 million customers, and the PrimeCo partnership grew its customer base 133% to 900,000 and increased revenues 145% to $509 million in 1998.
International wireless properties generated the greatest amount of growth in '98, ending the year with 1.9 million proportionate customers, up 143.5% over the prior year.
With the opening of markets, low teledensity rates, high prices, and poor network and customer care quality, international markets hold tremendous
"By 2008, U.S. wireless penetration is expected to grow from 25% to 60%, wireless share of total telecom minutes from 5% to 21%, and share of telecom revenue from 15% to 28%."
Internationally, wireless is growing at about five times the U.S. market's pace. In Italy, celludensity will surpass teledensity in the next year, and Mexico is predicted to be in the same position in well under a decade.
Bell Atlantic is taking advantage of this trend through early, aggressive investment in digital platforms, pricing strategies that make wireless more attractive, and innovative distribution and operating systems that pioneered concepts such as Bell Atlantic Mobile's carrier-owned chain of retail stores and a customer care system that dips into the database each time a customer calls to provide a script for up-selling services based on the customer's unique profile.
"Our experience at building a global enterprise translates into very specific benefits for countries like Mexico. We've leveraged our skills at technology deployment, customer service, marketing, and distribution to enhance the performance of investments such as Iusacell, and improved the delivery of telecommunications services to local customers all around the globe."
Babbio predicts that as markets like Mexico warm more to open and level competition, bring interconnection fees in line with world-class benchmarks, and institute programs like Calling Party Pays, consumers will continue to be the big winners.
"As competitive potential turns into real customer benefits, critical mass will create further incentives to invest in those markets."
All of Mr. Babbio's recent speeches can be accessed at http://www.ba.com.
Bell Atlantic is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 U.S. states and international investments spanning Latin America, Europe, and Asia. For information on our global operations, visit http://www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.