LaQuinta, CA — Bell Atlantic added 874,000 wireless customers to its base in the fourth quarter of 1999, Bell Atlantic [NYSE: BEL] Chairman and CEO Seidenberg announced today at the Salomon Smith Barney 10th Annual Entertainment, Media and Telecommunications Conference.
The increase includes 452,000 subscribers from the acquisition of Frontier Cellular properties and Bell Atlantic Mobile's record customer growth of 363,000 net subscribers, its best quarter ever. Bell Atlantic Mobile added 20 percent more subscribers in the fourth quarter of 1999 than in the fourth quarter of 1998, and broke the one million mark for the full year. The company ended 1999 with 7.7 million customers, up 24 percent from year-end 1998.
"Bell Atlantic Mobile's reliable, high-capacity network and its innovative high-quality services and customer care are the foundation on which these stellar results were built," Seidenberg said. "Bell Atlantic Mobile is more than ready for a landmark 2000, when it will combine with the US wireless assets of GTE (NYSE: GTE) and Vodafone AirTouch Plc (LSE:VOD; NYSE: VOD) into the premier wireless business in the United States."
The chief factor driving new customers to Bell Atlantic Mobile in 1999 was the popularity of the company's digital wireless services for value and quality:
- More than seven in 10 new retail customers -- and nearly 40 percent of all the company's customers -- now subscribe to digital services.
- These customers account for 72 percent of busy-hour usage on the company's network - which is one of the most advanced in the world and outperforms competing national services running on other digital networks.
- In 1999, Bell Atlantic Mobile's wireless network also received the seal of approval from prestigious third-party sources including: The Yankee Group's Mobile User Survey of wireless customers scored Bell Atlantic Mobile highest in overall customer satisfaction; in the J.D. Power and Associates 1999 U.S. Wireless Customer Satisfaction Studysm, the company's New York and Boston operations again this year were designated leaders in overall customer satisfaction. And last week, Wireless Week named Bell Atlantic Mobile winner of its 1999 Excellence Award.
- The company's broad suite of digital services offered value to meet a variety of customer needs. They include:
* SingleRate national and regional all-inclusive price plans.
* DigitalChoice, starting at $19.99 monthly access, with choices from 20 to 2,000 included minutes.
* Share-A-Minutesm plans allow families and small businesses to share monthly access and local airtime minutes among multiple phones -- all on one bill.
* Web Access service, featuring new Web-enabled digital wireless phones that allow customers to surf the Web, send and receive e-mail, receive stock market analysis and quotes, and set up personal Web pages -- for $9.95 a month.
A major step toward the launch of the Bell Atlantic - Vodafone AirTouch U.S. wireless combination came in the fourth quarter when the U.S. Department of Justice gave clearance, subject to a consent decree that calls for the resolution of overlapping wireless properties.
Including the assets of GTE, the new business will be the largest U.S. wireless company, serving more than 22 million proportionate wireless and 3.5 million paging customers in markets covering more than 90 percent of the population.
Bell Atlantic plans to announce financial results for the fourth quarter and the year on Monday, January 24.
Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East and systems in the Southwest, covering 216,000 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 7.7 million customers and 8,800 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.