BEDMINSTER, N.J. — Bell Atlantic Mobile launched its prepaid wireless calling cards at 700 Radio Shack stores throughout the eastern United States on July 1, one of the industry's largest retail offerings of prepaid wireless.
For consumers, this means they can choose their price for wireless service, pay for it in advance and buy more whenever they need it, instead of paying a fixed monthly rate.
Prepaid calling cards for wireless promise to be equally as popular as their counterparts for wired calling, as wireless in general quickly becomes a predominant means of communication. The demand for prepaid wireless service is expected to grow to 25 percent of all wireless users by 2003, according to The Yankee Group, the Boston-based information technology market research firm.
At the Radio Shack stores, consumers can sign up for Bell Atlantic Mobile's prepaid package, called MobileMinutesSM, including a wireless phone and $20 worth of calling. But the real convenience is the ability for consumers to replenish calling cards at so many Radio Shack Stores -- whether they're out on their own town or out of town, since Radio Shack's retail reach is so extensive. This includes Bell Atlantic Mobile's already significant number of prepaid customers, who will be able to replenish their cards at these Radio Shacks.
"In terms of convenience, buying wireless phone cards is like buying gasoline. You may go out our your way for the initial purchase of the car itself, but you want the repeat purchases -- the gasoline, or phone cards in our case -- to be accessible everywhere," said Debra Carroll, vice president of marketing for Bell Atlantic Mobile.
"By partnering with Radio Shack, we're marrying a popular product concept with a popular place of purchase."
With one in every four Americans using wireless phones today -- a statistic that is growing -- consumers have varying needs. MobileMinutes prepaid cards allow customers to pay in advance, giving them predictability and total control over what they spend. They're available in $25, $50 and $100 increments, and work on the same advanced wireless network as Bell Atlantic Mobile's other wireless services.
As with calling cards for wired calls, these wireless calling cards are "cardless." Customers won't need an actual card to make a call; rather, they will be given a PIN, or identification number, that corresponds to their account. When using their calling card, customers are alerted to their balance by a whisper tone, that only they hear, each time they make a call. A reminder tone alerts them when their balance hits four minutes, with one long reminder tone every minute thereafter.
A longtime industry leader in distribution, Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates 200 company-branded Communications Stores and had more than 2,000 retail points of presence leading up to today's announcement. In addition, the company was the first to establish a full service Online Store @ www.bam.com.
Radio Shack has long been an authorized retailer for Bell Atlantic Mobile's other wireless services, including DigitalChoiceSM advanced digital wireless voice services and its popular SingleRateSM regional and national calling plans.
RadioShack, the retail operating format of Tandy Corporation (NYSE: TAN), is the largest and most trusted consumer electronics retailer in the United States. With more than 7,000 stores and dealers, RadioShack sells more wireless telephones, telecommunications products and electronic parts and accessories than any other retailer. It is estimated that 94 percent of Americans live or work within five minutes of a RadioShack store or dealer. For more information, visit Tandy Corporation/RadioShack web sites at www.tandy.com and www.radioshack.com.
In the New York, Boston, Washington/Baltimore and Pittsburgh markets, Bell Atlantic Mobile was named leader in overall customer satisfaction among wireless users, according to the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates 1998 U.S. Wireless Customer Satisfaction Study.sm Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 120,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 6.4 million customers and 8,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Through its "Wireless at Work..." community service program, the company uses its technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent, Bell Atlantic Corporation (NYSE:BEL) is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic Mobile visit: www.bam.com; on global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.