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Omnitel Signs Three Millionth Customer in 27 Months
Italian wireless business achieves profitability,
increased market share
March 27, 1998
PHILADELPHIA - Italian wireless startup Omnitel Pronto Italia
continues to build a globe-leading operation, announcing today it
added more than 500,000 customers since the start of 1998, and more
than three million customers since beginning service 27 months ago.
Bell Atlantic's Italian wireless investment said it closed out its
1997 fiscal year with US$1.07 billion in revenues, a more than 140
percent increase over yearend 1996.
The company became profitable in the second half of 1997, improving
first semester results to end the full year with only a US$82 million
loss. Omnitel posted a US$383 million loss in 1996.
The company says the trend is continuing this year and that Omnitel
should show significant profitability in 1998.
"Omnitel has developed a one-two punch of customer value and company
profitability," said Tom Bartlett, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic
International Wireless. "The convenience and savings of both Calling
Party Pays and prepaid service are a hit with customers, and the low
acquisition costs that result are a knockout for the business."
Omnitel closed 1997 having boosted its market share to 33 percent of
all new cellular subscribers, including adding 40 percent of all new
customers during the fourth quarter alone. Total market share grew to
more than 20 percent during 1997. Results from the first few months
of 1998 confirm a continuing upward trend in market share for Omnitel.
During 1997, Omnitel invested more than US$400 million in its
networks, bringing the company's overall investment to more than
US$2.25 billion since 1994.
Network deployment accelerated through 1997, extending coverage to 83
percent of Italy with 2,440 transmission sites. At the beginning of
March 1998, coverage reached 85 percent of the territory and 98
percent of the population.
Early in 1997, Omnitel received the Teleperformance Gold award for
quality in customer care. Omnitel was the only telecommunications
provider in Europe to receive the honor.
Late in 1997, the company was recognized by Project Finance
International with "Deal of the Year" honors for its US$1.64 billion
Omnitel also led the Italian market with unique services and pricing
during 1997. The company recently introduced a service that makes
international calling competitive with landline phone service.
The introduction of rechargeable prepaid calling cards now allows
customers to track their usage in real time using the phone's built-in
screen. And the company's zone-priced "City" plan offers valuable
savings for calls made inside a preset city area.
Bell Atlantic is the second largest shareholder in Omnitel Pronto
Italia with a 17.4 percent interest.
Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX
- is at the forefront of the new communications and information
industry. With 40.5 million telephone access lines and six 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.