$12 Million High-Tech Facility Is Open; Bell Atlantic Mobile Launches Digital Technology And Advanced Services

ALBANY, NY. — Bell Atlantic Mobile announced today the completion of its $12 million, regional mobile switching center and digital switching facility and the launch of its digital wireless service to consumers in the Capital region.

The new service, called DigitalChoicesm, delivers improved call clarity and gives customers the ability to answer pages, receive voice mail and identify the number of the incoming call, all while providing extended battery life and better security. In the Capital region, Bell Atlantic Mobile is the only wireless carrier to provide dual-mode capabilities. Customers can use the new phones virtually anywhere in the United States because Bell Atlantic Mobile wireless service is integrated, working on both analog cellular and compatible digital networks.

Bell Atlantic Mobile, previously Bell Atlantic NYNEX Mobile in Albany, leads the industry in deploying Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) service. This `next generation' wireless technology provides enhanced service features, and operates on the most extensive, integrated network on the East Coast.

"The sound quality of our digital network is so good that people won't believe they're on a cellular phone," said Jack Plating, president of the Northeast Region of Bell Atlantic Mobile, at today's press conference at RPI Technology Park. "We can provide customers with the best technology and most extensive network on the East Coast.

Customers have the best of both worlds and can use our digital service in our markets, including New York City, and then hop on a plane or drive outside our East Coast service area and use the phones' analog capability anywhere in the country.

The company broke ground just nine months ago on the $12 million digital switching facility, which houses the network switch that supports digital service. The 26,000-square foot building, located in RPI Technology Park in North Greenbush, will house approximately 30 Bell Atlantic Mobile employees from engineering, construction, operations, maintenance and administration.

Price plans for DigitalChoice begin at an access rate of $29.99 per month which includes 60 minutes of home air time. There is no activation fee. Bell Atlantic Mobile is selling handheld digital phones at its Communications Stores throughout the Upstate region starting at $199, or $149 with a cellular/PCS phone trade-in. For more information, call 1-800-255-BELL.

While on the digital network, DigitalChoice service provides customers with:

  • free first minute of airtime on incoming calls within the home airtime rate area which includes: New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, depending on rate plan selected
  • free caller ID -- lets you know who's calling · free voice mail with message-waiting indicator · dramatically increased battery life
  • built-in electronic fraud protection
  • free call forwarding, call waiting and three-way calling
  • optional text messaging for an added monthly charge of $12.99 or operator-assisted text messaging for $24.99

Consumers are invited to preview the service this week (September 15-20) at Bell Atlantic Mobile Communications Store locations in Clifton Park, Crossgates Mall, and Albany's Central Avenue where they can make a free DigitalChoice call to anyone in the continental United States. With Bell Atlantic digital service available in Boston, Hartford, metro New York/New Jersey, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington/Baltimore, Charlotte and Spartanburg, NC, and Columbia and Greenville, SC., the company has the largest digital coverage area on the East Coast.

Bell Atlantic Mobile is the largest wireless service provider on the East Coast and the second largest in the United States. The company owns and operates the most extensive network in the east, covering 111,000 square miles, and the largest chain of wireless retail outlets offering a full range of wireless personal communications services, including voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 4.9 million customers and 7,000 employees in the Northeast, mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. The company is the chief wireless subsidiary of the new Bell Atlantic, formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX corporations.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Mark Lowenstein of the Yankee Group is currently using Bell Atlantic Mobile's CDMA DigitalChoice service. For comments, please contact Mr. Lowenstein at (617) 956-5000. For a demonstration of the service and/or for an interview with a Bell Atlantic Mobile spokesperson, please contact Lynn Luczkowski at (203) 393-1101.


IMPROVED VOICE QUALITY: Research concludes the 13-kilobit voice coder (vocoder) of CDMA technology provides the wireless service that is closest to landline voice quality, virtually eliminating cross-talk and static. The 13-kilobit vocoder uses a unique noise suppression technique that emphasizes and improves voice quality, while greatly reducing background noise.

ALL THE TIME, EVERYWHERE COMMUNICATIONS: Customers can use the new phones virtually anywhere in the United States because Bell Atlantic Mobile digital phones work on both compatible digital and existing analog networks. The handset will automatically select the digital service if available.

INCREASED BATTERY LIFE: The battery life for CDMA digital handheld phones is dramatically improved when operating in the digital mode, allowing as many as five hours of talk time and two full days of standby time -- 2-5 times more than most analog phones.

GREATER PRIVACY: Voice privacy is greatly enhanced. Each digital call is coded by converting voice to a stream of 1's and 0's and then scrambled by a unique code, so it is better protected from eavesdropping.

FIRST INCOMING MINUTE FREE: DigitalChoice service plans allow customers to receive the first minute free on local incoming calls in the home area.

FREE VOICE MAIL WITH MESSAGE WAITING INDICATOR: Customers will be alerted when a message is waiting by visual or audible tones. Customers can store up to 40 five-minute messages up to 30 days.

BUILT-IN FRAUD PROTECTION: For added protection and convenience, the phone is equipped with Authentication technology, which protects against cloning while eliminating the need for a PIN (personal identification number) in the customer's home area.

CALL WAITING, CALL FORWARDING AND THREE-WAY CALLING are included in all DigitalChoicesm rate plans.