Wireless Phone Shopping Tips Make Holiday Buying Easier

BEDMINSTER, NJ — With digital wireless service more attractive this year and many choices available in phones, features and service plans, Bell Atlantic Mobile offers the following simple tips to help consumers understand what's important when buying a digital wireless phone.

1. Know How the Phone Will Be Used

Will you use the phone to keep in touch with the kids en route to and from work? Do you travel frequently and need a service plan that offers no roaming and long distance charges? Will the phone be used only for emergencies? How you'll use the phone is important because it will guide you in choosing calling plans, equipment and special features.

2. Ask About Coverage

Coverage is the geographic area where a wireless carrier provides service. Look for a provider with a digital network that spans the area where you'll use your phone. Make certain you know what happens when you travel beyond a carrier's digital footprint. And, be sure to ask if your phone will work in the cities and towns you're likely to visit. Find out if your included airtime minutes are available when you're outside your home region.

3. Choose A Price Plan Based on Usage

Since prices for most digital plans are based on the number of minutes included, estimate how many calls you'll make in a week or month before selecting a calling plan. Also, think about where you're most likely to use your phone. Also, ask about additional charges and if the plan includes a detailed bill. Make sure, too, you can change price plans easily if your usage changes. Flat-rate pricing plans that include bundles of minutes with no roaming or long distance charges are a good choice for many. Bell Atlantic Mobile's DigitalChoice SingleRatesm pricing plans, with packages starting as low as $39.99 a month, are very popular with consumers this year.

4. Shop Smart For A Digital Phone

Digital phones offer an array of advanced features like extended battery life, enhanced security, voice mail and Caller ID at no extra charge. When shopping, look for a dual-mode phone that automatically switches from digital to analog networks because you'll be able to use that phone virtually anywhere in the United States. Remember, too, that a digital phone usually sells for a lot less when you purchase it as part of a service agreement.

5. Pre-Paid Cellular Cards Made Great Stocking Stuffers

For the casual user, digital service might not be the answer, but a pre-paid cellular card like Bell Atlantic Mobile's MobileMinutessm could be just the thing. These cards give the users the comfort and predictability of paying as they go. The cards can be purchased individually and used with a customer's existing equipment or may be bought in conjunction with a new or refurbished phone. There are no monthly cellular bills or long-term contracts

6. Consider Customer Service and Support

Be sure you select a carrier that provides superior Customer Service in your area.

7. Decide Where and When you Want To Shop

Look for retailers with the most knowledgeable staffs and the greatest selection of equipment and pricing plans for the best wireless buy. Carriers like Bell Atlantic Mobile own and operate their own wireless Communications Stores. And, if you'd like to shop online, Bell Atlantic Mobile gives customers the ability to complete an entire order for wireless service, equipment and accessories right on-line at www.bam.com. Of, if you prefer, call 1-800-255-BELL to place an order.

8. Customers Say It Best

What customers think of their carrier is also important. 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 Studysm.

Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 112,000 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 5.7 million customers and 7,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent 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 global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.