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Prague, Czech Republic -- EuroTel Praha, the Czech Republic's largest cellular operator reported ending the third quarter of 1997 with more than 316,000 customers. Year-over-year customer growth for the third quarter was in excess of 250 percent, making EuroTel one of the world's fastest growing wireless businesses. EuroTel's total revenues for the first nine months of '97 were in excess of CZKc7.4 billion (US$238 million), for year-over-year growth in excess of 175 percent. Bell Atlantic's Czech-based wireless investment had approximately 251,000 customers on its digital "GSM Global" network and another 65,000 on its analog "EuroTel Classic" network. EuroTel is the only provider in the Czech Republic offering customers a choice between digital and analog service.
EuroTel's GSM signal currently covers 81 percent of the country's geography and 88 percent of the population.
"We expect that in 1998 our GSM coverage will approach the analog system's near-total geographic coverage level," said Mac Allman, EuroTel's Managing Director.
To enhance its GSM system's in-building coverage and overall signal quality throughout the Czech Republic, the company will tap the US$400 million loan facility that was extended to EuroTel this October by a consortium of domestic and international banks.
A key driver in EuroTel's growth has been its introduction of innovative services to the Czech market. This month the company announced it will offer its new "GO" plan, a rechargeable pre-paid service that frees customers of monthly fees and contracts. The service also lets customers track their usage right on the phone's screen by dialing a free number.
This September, EuroTel introduced the new "Vikend" (Weekend) service package that can be added to any of its service price plans with a monthly access fee of only CZKc95 (about US$2.90). The plan allows customers to make calls for only CZKc1 (US$0.03) a minute per month on Saturdays, Sundays, and State holidays.
"EuroTel's strong results in the Czech Republic show just how much people value wireless service," said Tom Bartlett, president and CEO of Bell Atlantic International Wireless. "EuroTel's performance also puts it in the company of our Omnitel business in Italy, giving Bell Atlantic a portfolio with two of the world's fastest-growing wireless operations."
EuroTel has GSM roaming agreements in 42 countries: Andorra, Australia, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Croatia, Ireland, Italy, South Africa, Cyprus, Lebanon, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Austria, Russia, Greece, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, the United States, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and in Great Britain.
EuroTel Praha is a joint venture of SPT Telecom Inc. (51%) and Atlantic West B.V. (49%). Atlantic West B.V. is a joint venture equally owned by Bell Atlantic (NYSE:BEL) and US WEST International, part of the US WEST Media Group (NYSE:UMG).
The new Bell Atlantic - formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX - is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.8 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.