PITTSBURGH, PA — Consumers are now using their wireless phones for more than just "talk." They're surfing the Net and sending and receiving e-mail messages on the same digital wireless phone that gives them quality voice service. When Bell Atlantic Mobile launched its Web Access service last fall, it was the latest service introduction during a year when wireless data use expanded beyond business and commercial applications and became an affordable, convenient option for consumers.
"With our Web Access service, consumers now have a simple and inexpensive way of connecting to the Internet and e-mail wirelessly, using a digital handset," said Roger Tang, regional vice president for Bell Atlantic Mobile in Pittsburgh. "Both consumers and mobile professionals are enjoying getting stock quotes, getting real-time flight information and keeping up with email - right from their digital phone."
Tang said the company's expanded data services contributed to Bell Atlantic Mobile's strong performance and continued growth in the Pittsburgh Region during 1999. "I expect a significant increase in customers choosing our wireless data services in the year ahead, as the convergence of wireless and the Internet drives surging demand for voice and data services."
In highlighting Bell Atlantic Mobile's performance in the Pittsburgh area for the last year and prospects for continued growth in 2000, Tang said:
* Bell Atlantic Mobile's customer base in the area rose more than 22%. New services and expanded capacity will support further growth.
* The company's employment in the region grew 15% in 1999 and is projected to increase by an additional 15-18% in the coming year with levels approaching 500 employees.
* Investment in the Region's network surpassed $240 million over the past five years. The Region doubled its digital network capacity last year, providing higher call quality for the tens of thousands of DigitalChoiceâ customers. Enhancements are planned throughout the year ahead. Digital service was expanded to three additional counties in Central Pennsylvania. A $250,000 station wagon with sophisticated monitoring equipment was added to the Pittsburgh team to help engineers measure the company's network quality as well as track the performance of all wireless competitors.
* Bell Atlantic Mobile expanded its retail operations with the opening of a new full-service Communications Store in Cranberry Township. Another store will open at 5th Avenue and Smithfield Street in downtown Pittsburgh in early 2000, and major remodeling and expansions are scheduled at a number of the company's stores and mall kiosks. Staffing at all Communications Stores increased during 1999 and continues to include service technicians to test, repair and install equipment.
* New products and services focused on enhancing customer convenience. The Share-A-Minutesm plan gives families and small businesses a new way to use wireless by sharing monthly access and home airtime minutes among multiple phones. The company also began offering online billing, enabling customers to view their account and pay their wireless phone bills electronically. The popular pre-paid MobileMinutessm cards are now available in more denominations.
* Bell Atlantic Mobile dramatically increased its support of programs for victims of domestic violence in 1999 with a donation of 200 phones to area centers and by working with shelters to conduct phone recycling drives. Donated phones are pre-programmed to dial 9-1-1 and given to the victims so they can summon emergency assistance.
"It was an exciting year for Bell Atlantic Mobile in Pittsburgh with the launch of our new wireless Internet access and our digital service enhancements," Tang concluded. "We look forward to even greater accomplishments in the year ahead as our parent company completes its merger with GTE and we join our expertise with Vodafone AirTouch to provide a national digital footprint for Pittsburgh customers."