Unwired Americans 'Tell All' About How They're Using Mobile Phones

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Unwired Americans 'Tell All' About How They're Using Mobile Phones

August 19, 1997

Media contacts:

Catarina Wylie

PrimeCo Personal Communications

(817) 258-1531

Melanie Ofenloch


(972) 480-8383

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

everyday use.

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

thermal underwear.

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.

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