Omnitel Reaches 2.5 Million Customers in Just Over Two Years

Omnitel Reaches 2.5 Million Customers in Just Over Two Years

Wins "Deal of the Year" and other honors in 1997

January 19, 1998

Media contacts:

Steve Fleischer


Philadelphia, Pa. - Omnitel Pronto Italia today announced it added
more than 2.5 million wireless subscribers in little more than its
first two years of service. Omnitel, Bell Atlantic's wireless
investment in Italy, became that country's first private digital
wireless operator when it launched service in December of 1995.
On December 31, 1997, Omnitel had 2,460,000 customers and added 40,000
new customers in the first week of January 1998, a traditionally slow
period for sales. The company, which ended 1996 with 713,000
subscribers, marked a 250 percent growth rate during 1997.

"Stars shine in every direction, and Omnitel has been lighting up
everything from customer care to network innovation to marketing
programs," said Tom Bartlett, CEO and President of Bell Atlantic
International Wireless. "We're proud to have actively contributed to
such a tremendous success story."

Bell Atlantic and Omnitel point to a number of factors that make
Omnitel one of the fastest-growing wireless startups in history. For
instance, in 1997:

  • Digital network coverage reached 83 percent of the market and 98
    percent of the population;

  • Omnitel was the only telecommunications provider to win the
    Teleperformance Gold Award for customer care; and

  • Rechargeable pre-paid cards were introduced allowing customers to
    track usage right on their phone's screen, in real time.

While rechargeable cards added a new segment to Omnitel's overall
customer mix, subscriptions to traditional business and corporate
plans more than doubled during the year. The strong growth helped
Omnitel boost its share of the digital GSM (Global System for Mobile)
market to 35 percent.

Omnitel's success also has extended beyond service levels and customer
growth. The company's 1997 Lit.2.8 trillion (about U.S.$1.6 billion)
financing earned it Project Finance International's "Deal of the Year"
award for telecommunications.

Among considerations for the award, the deal was cited for its short
closing time, the number and stature of the underwriters - more than
60 financial institutions of which 27 were Italian - its innovative
terms, and sound fiscal structure.

The financing also enticed the European Investment Bank and the
European Investment Fund to play a role in the deal.

This is the second time in two years that Omnitel has been awarded
this international honor.

Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX
- is at the forefront of the new communications, information and
entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and
5.8 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are
premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market
leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of
directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the
world's largest investors in high-growth global communications
markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.