Unwired Americans 'Tell All' About How They're Using Mobile Phones
August 19, 1997
PrimeCo Personal Communications
DALLAS -- Take a walk on the wireless side these days and you're in
for a surprise. Americans are using wireless phones to answer personal
ads, chat on talk radio, check the movie lineup and order everything
from fast food to lingerie. Since the debut of personal communications
services, talk is cheap and getting cheaper. PCS has been on the
market for under a year, and already there is evidence it's changing
the way Americans are using their mobile phones.
So says PrimeCo Personal Communications L.P., the first-to-market PCS
player that recently commissioned "America Unwired," a survey
conducted to confirm PrimeCo's own early findings: PCS subscribers are
using their phones more often and in more diverse ways than
traditional cellular users.
It isn't hard to sell the value of wireless communications. In fact,
50 million people have adopted it in little over a decade. It took 77
years to reach that number on the landline side. But what has been
needed is a way to make wireless communications affordable for
PCS delivered the needed technical breakthrough - high-speed digital
transmission technology that makes it possible for nearly 10 times
more calls to travel over a wireless network. Fierce competition is
taking care of the rest. The big winners are consumers who are
grabbing the chance to gab on the go.
According to data gathered through the "America Unwired" survey, PCS
consumers are making and breaking dates, making plans with family and
friends, but mostly just making good use of time. In fact, for what is
believed to be the first time in the history of wireless
communications, consumers cited the No. 1 reason they bought a mobile
phone was to "make their lives easier." That's a major shift in
attitude from traditional cellular users who say safety and security
is their primary motivating factor. That difference in attitude is
worth noting because it explains why PCS subscribers talk more than
traditional wireless subscribers.
Nearly three times more if PrimeCo's numbers are any indication of
overall PCS usage patterns.
Not only are PCS consumers talking on their phones more, they
apparently don't leave home without them. They take them to the gym,
the beach, the beauty shop, on hunting and fishing trips, even to
church. In fact, several survey respondents said having their phones
ring in church ranked among their most embarrassing "wireless"
Hectic lives seem to be at the heart of the wireless trend. More
demanding jobs, lack of leisure time, the need to juggle personal and
professional lives were a familiar litany among survey respondents who
said wireless helped them manage their time more efficiently. More
than nine percent said their wireless phone helped increase what they
got done in the course of the day, while almost 14 percent said
they're using it to stay in touch with family and friends.
Interestingly, busy as they are, PCS consumers still find time to
volunteer. Some 10 percent of the respondents reported they are using
their phones to accomplish some sort of work for charity's sake.
But if this survey is any indication, PCS consumers are not falling
into the all work no play syndrome. They use their PCS phone to signal
"surprise" for a party. They use the phone to make their friends
jealous about the front-row tickets they've scored, brag to buddies
about the sporting event they're attending, and, hate to admit it, to
impress someone in a nearby car.
How they're using the phone says a lot about how they're spending
time, too. PCS consumers are making appointments with personal
trainers, manicurists and hair stylists. They're reserving everything
from tennis courts to tee times to theater tickets. Playful,
braggadocios, active and, apparently, resourceful. One hunter reported
calling a local store from his duck blind to see if they carried
Wireless communication appears to be rapidly integrating into
America's favorite pastime, shopping. PCS subscribers are using their
phones to avoid forgetting anything at the grocery store, to confer
about available videos, to make sure the size is right before buying
an item, to get the word out about a hot sale and to discreetly double
check the bank balance.
Surprisingly, more men than women seem to "run the numbers" before
making that gotta-have purchase. Women, on the other hand, have the
stronghold on making appointments. Whether it's to reach the
hairstylist, the babysitter, or dog groomer, women use their PCS
phones significantly more than men.
If industry visionaries are right, half of all Americans will use
wireless communications by the year 2005. Obviously, PCS is in its
infancy, and it's too soon to pronounce a trend from a trickle of
data. But if early reports from the wireless frontier are any
indication of what's to come, Americans are destined to "walk the
PrimeCo commissioned the "America Unwired" study to statistically
affirm its opinion that PCS is changing the landscape of the wireless
industry. DSS Research, a 20-year-old marketing research firm,
conducted telephone interviews with 929 wireless customers in 17 major
cities between May 27 and June 19, 1997. The survey has a possible
sampling error of plus or minus 3.2 percent which constitutes a 95
percent confidence level. All data was analyzed through testing and
cross-tabulation software to determine specific statistical
differences among the results and to prove developing trends.
PrimeCo Personal Communications provides digital wireless service in
19 major cities: Norfolk and Richmond, Va.; Fort Lauderdale,
Jacksonville, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Fla.; Chicago; Madison and
Milwaukee, Wis.; Mobile, Ala.; New Orleans; Austin, Dallas, Fort
Worth, Houston and San Antonio, Texas; Honolulu and Maui, Hawaii. The
company, which was formed by an alliance of AirTouch Communications,
Bell Atlantic, NYNEX and U S WEST Media Group, owns PCS licenses
covering 19 states and 61 million potential customers in 11 MTAs and
has more than 2,800 employees. PrimeCo sells its phones and service
through its own direct sales force, the company's 44 stores, more than
2,000 indirect retail outlets and a toll-free telephone sales line.
The address for PrimeCo's interactive Website is www.primeco.com.