BEDMINSTER, NJ — With traditional telephone service, "collect" calls are the exception. With calls to wireless phones, "collect" is the rule. All that may change. Bell Atlantic Mobile today launched "Call Me," an option freeing wireless customers from the charges for incoming calls while in their service area. Currently in the US, wireless customers pay for both outgoing and incoming calls.
Delaware will be the test market for "Call Me" service, commonly referred to as calling-party-pays (CPP). Unlike other CPP offerings, customers do not have to get a new or "special" mobile phone number. There's also no charge to the subscriber for this feature; customers have this option on the company's regular price plans. Additionally, Bell Atlantic Mobile offers a unique "priority list" feature for customers to select up to five people whose incoming calls they will pay for.
"Call Me will make wireless more valuable for current wireless consumers, more affordable to those who do not yet have wireless, and more competitive with landline service," said Dennis F. Strigl, chairman and CEO of Bell Atlantic's Global Wireless Group. "Because the CPP concept mirrors the way traditional phone service has always worked, it will make it increasingly simpler for consumers to use their wireless phones as an alternative to their landline phone."
In addition to not having to pay for incoming calls in their service area, "Call Me" customers can also feel more comfortable giving out their wireless phone number. And callers benefit from CPP, too, because their mobile friends and family members will be more accessible when they leave their phones turned on more regularly, and have their mobile telephone numbers listed. Callers will hear a message informing them of the charges before the call is processed.
Bell Atlantic Mobile believes CPP could stimulate overall wireless usage, as well as increase the ratio of incoming to outgoing wireless calls. Today, only about 20 percent of wireless calls are incoming.
The Delaware test of Bell Atlantic Mobile's CPP service kicks off with a print advertising campaign, as well as television and radio spots featuring the 80s hit song "Call Me."
The Call Me Plan
Here's how "Call Me" service works:
- "Call Me" service is offered on most Bell Atlantic Mobile price plans for new and existing Delaware customers, and allows them to receive all their incoming calls while in their "Call Me" service area at no charge.
- When the caller places a call to the wireless user, an announcement informs them of the charges they will incur. If the caller chooses to hang up when they hear the announcement, they will avoid "Call Me" charges.
- Callers who wish to proceed remain on the line, and when the call goes through, calls are billed to them at 25 cents a minute, 35 cents for credit card calls, plus any usual phone charges such as long distance and tolls.:
- If the caller is on a Bell Atlantic landline phone, the charge will appear on their Bell Atlantic phone bill.
- Callers who aren't using Bell Atlantic's local landline service to call the wireless customer can use most credit cards, and charges will appear on their credit card statement.
- "Call Me" customers can easily create and update, via a toll-free number, their personal priority list of five people whose incoming calls they will pay for.
- "Call Me" customers will be listed in Bell Atlantic Mobile's directory assistance service. This is the first time the company has listed mobile numbers.
- A voice messaging service is included with "Call Me;" the caller will be billed for the time spent leaving the message. Caller ID also is included free of charge.
Wireless Industry Analyst Mark Lowenstein, of the Yankee Group, has been briefed on this announcement (617) 956-5000.
Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East and systems in the Southwest, covering 180,000 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 6.9 million customers and 8,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and in parts of Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas. 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.