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Omnitel Sets Wireless Records For 1999
January 11, 2000
10.4 million customers in just over four years of operation
4.22 million customers added in 1999
100 million calls, 18 million SMSs On New Years Day
Rome, Italy, 11 January 2000 - Bell Atlantic's Italian wireless operator
Omnitel announced today it ended 1999 with a record increase in
customers, adding 4.22 million new subscribers for the year and closing
just over four years of operation with 10,418,321 customers. Subscriber
growth was up 68% compared with 1998.
"As in our other international operations, network and customer care
performance levels, innovative services, and strong management team
were key drivers in Omnitel's incredible growth," said Bell Atlantic
International Wireless President and CEO Tom Bartlett. "New
wireless data, Internet access, and e-commerce services will continue to
position Omnitel to capture additional growth in the Italian marketplace
for 2000 and beyond."
Bell Atlantic is a founding partner and 23.1% shareholder in Omnitel.
"Our strategies to ensure 'second-to-none' network performance and
customer care have helped Omnitel achieve industry-leading levels
including churn rates of just over 10 percent annually," said Bartlett.
On New Year's Eve, from 11:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m., Omnitel successfully
processed 35 million voice calls and six million SMS (Short Message
Service) calls. On New Years Day the Omnitel network processed 100
million voice calls and 18 million SMSs.
During 1999 Bell Atlantic's Omnitel operation introduced a variety of new
Internet and data services. Omnitel2000 - the Internet portal that allows
customers to navigate services using natural-voice-recognition technology
- continued to expand its offerings in the fourth quarter. To date, the
"2000 Shop Centre" on-line mall includes more than 100
companies. Omnitel's on-line wireless shop "Spazio Omnitel"
had revenues of 4 billion lire in its first 6 months and 1 billion lire during
Rapid acceptance of the Internet and low PC penetration in Italy is
expected to facilitate the development of this wireless on-line
entertainment and shopping segment. Omnitel's strategy will include the
development of unique wireless services such as "T-Mails"
(an advanced version of SMS), Web navigation, on-line purchasing, as
well as entertainment, interactive games, and music.
Omnitel is also expanding its next-generation UMTS (Universal Mobile
Telecommunication System) wireless system, based on the new
international digital wireless standard. The experimental UMTS network
is already active in Turin which, with 11 base stations, represents Europe's
largest such operation.
Omnitel Pronto Italia's significant shareholders include Bell Atlantic,
Mannesmann, and Vodafone AirTouch.