PITTSBURGH, PA — Digital wireless service gained in popularity so much in recent months that nearly every new Bell Atlantic Mobile customer in western Pennsylvania now selects DigitalChoicesm . That trend culminated a year in which, in the Pittsburgh market, Bell Atlantic Mobile was ranked the leader in overall customer satisfaction among wireless users, according to the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates 1998 U.S. Wireless Customer Satisfaction Studysm*.
This year, the company also dedicated its new Pittsburgh Regional Headquarters, experienced continued regional employment growth, welcomed a new regional vice president to the area, greatly expanded its digital network and launched numerous new services for businesses and consumers.
"Expansion of the company's digital coverage area, coupled with the launch of digital SingleRate plans which eliminate long distance and roaming charges, have made digital service more attractive to the consumer than ever," explained Roger Tang, who became regional vice president for Bell Atlantic Mobile in Pittsburgh in July.
"This tremendous growth has fueled our business expansion in western Pennsylvania throughout the last year with our local employment up nine percent in 1998," Tang continued. "We expect to add more than 30 new jobs to the Region in the coming year."
Tang said he is especially pleased with the positive feedback from customers throughout the region as expressed in the J.D. Power and Associates 1998 U.S. Wireless Customers Satisfaction Studysm. He feels many things contributed to this ranking including the firm's local-based Customer Service operations, the investments the company makes in its constantly expanding western Pennsylvania network and the wide variety of services recently introduced which are targeted at specific customer needs.
Network Expansion and Enhancements
Bell Atlantic Mobile has invested more than $220 million in the Pittsburgh network over the past five years, expanding digital coverage into eight additional counties in the last twelve months, and enhancing overall service to all customers in the region. Improvements were made in nearly 60 different locations in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia to keep the increased volume of calls going through with the highest quality.
Newest Services Target Specific Consumer Needs
While increasing demand for digital service was the driving force behind new services in 1998, a number of additional calling plans and options were introduced to meet the needs of specific consumer segments and specialized business needs.
DigitalChoice SingleRatesm plans were the most popular product offerings of the year. When introduced in the fall, these plans gave business and consumer digital customers alike the benefits of single rate pricing with no roaming or long distance charges. A modest cost of entry, with monthly access pricing starting at $39.99, attracted consumers, boosting digital sales to record levels.
Earlier in the year, Bell Atlantic Mobile launched an unlimited mobile-to-mobile calling option. This 'all you can use' plan provides a competitive price point that is both predictable and economical for customers who communicate frequently with other digital phone users on the Bell Atlantic Mobile network.
MobileMinutessm pre-paid cellular calling cards, available since Spring, offer consumers cellular service with no monthly bills, no monthly access fee, no credit checks, and no security deposit. This pay-as-you-go system, designed for people seeking control over their cellular expenses, is popular with those who haven't yet established credit and for those who simply want the comfort and predictability of paying as they go.
The Bell Atlantic Mobile Online Store opened for business in September as the first of its kind offering a fully automated "store" on the company's Web site. By visiting the store at www.bam.com and following a few easy steps, consumers can order and complete the purchase of wireless service, cellular phones and accessories that fit their needs.
Serving the Community
Bell Atlantic Mobile continued its strong commitment to giving back to the communities it serves by expanding its support of a number of charitable activities. Celebrating its tenth anniversary as the corporate sponsor of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation's Pittsburgh Pirates 65 Roses Club, the company continued to make a donation for each Pirate home run hit during the baseball season, bringing the company's total contributions to more than $124,000.
In support of Bell Atlantic Mobile's national effort to assist victims of domestic violence, the Pittsburgh Region expanded its free voice mail HopeLine program to five additional domestic violence shelters: Alle-Kiski Area HOPE Center, WOMANSPLACE of Western Pennsylvania, Crisis Center North, Washington Women's Center and the Volunteers Against Abuse Center of Butler County, Inc. Women and their children who seek housing and assistance at these locations now have a new link to potential employers, housing and social services. The Women's Center & Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh has been using HopeLine for more than a year.
As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, Bell Atlantic Mobile invited local businesses to send managers to the company's Pittsburgh headquarters for a free seminar on how to identify and intervene for employees who may be victims of domestic violence. Earlier in the year, the firm's Pittsburgh employees conducted a "Diaper Drive," collecting more than 3,000 diapers and toiletry items for the littlest victims of domestic violence.
Bell Atlantic Mobile recycled more than 100 personal computers in November, donating these to a dozen local non-profit organizations. Groups plan to use the free equipment for everything from computer literacy training for the homeless and educational programs for children to simple office tasks for which they previously had no equipment.
More Growth Anticipated
"The coming year promises even greater challenges as technologies advance and our markets continue to grow," Tang concluded. "We will aggressively continue to lead the wireless industry in Pittsburgh with the highest quality network and customer service."
# # #
Editor's Note: Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 116,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. The company's Pittsburgh Regional Headquarters are in Thorn Hill Industrial park in Marshall Township.
# # #
*J.D. Power and Associates study based on responses from 10,706 wireless telephone subscribers in 22 of the top North American markets. The Pittsburgh market covers: Allgheny, Beaver, Washington and Westmoreland Counites. www.jdpower.com