$250,000 Station Wagon Debuts On Connecticut Roads

WALLINGFORD, CT — Wireless customers want clear service and good coverage, regardless of the routes they travel -- through highway tunnels, along the coastline and around the rough and hilly terrain of the Northeast. That's why Bell Atlantic Mobile today has rolled out its secret weapon to ensure high quality network performance in the Connecticut area.

It is a souped-up blue station wagon loaded with a quarter-million dollars worth of sophisticated equipment. The vehicle has 18 antennas, protruding from the roof like quills of a porcupine, strategically located to give each of the wireless phones in the car an equal chance of picking up the signal from the service providers it monitors.

Operated by Bell Atlantic Mobile's telecommunications "techies, " the vehicle travels city streets as well as long and winding roads and beyond -- to objectively measure the service quality of its wireless network and the competitions' network. Simply put, the testing vehicle is quality assurance on wheels, traversing the region five days a week, logging some 1700 miles each month throughout the state.

Bell Atlantic Mobile plans to invest nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in its company-wide network this year. Recent network enhancements have been made throughout Connecticut and the Northeast Region (Click here to view the detailed network expansions on attached matrix).

"As competition in the wireless industry rages on, carriers are more focused on call quality than ever before," said Robert Stott, president of Bell Atlantic Mobile's Northeast Region. "Because it is so affordable, over 33,000 new customers are signing up for wireless service each day in the United States. However, attractive pricing and high-tech phones mean nothing if our network cannot stay ahead of the growing customer demand."

At the heart of the drive tests is an array of eight portable wireless phones mounted in the station wagon's cargo area and hooked up to the computer equipment, each one making repeated calls on the wireless networks of one of the six companies licensed to serve the region.

"Connecticut's competitive wireless marketplace has six different carriers, operating on three different technological platforms, so measuring the reliability of each network --fairly and consistently -- is no small task," Stott added. " We rely on computerized monitoring equipment and software to allow network engineers to simultaneously compare all networks. The information gathered helps us improve the quality of service we deliver to our customers"

Stott said monitoring the performance of the company's network with this new equipment challenges Bell Atlantic Mobile to exceed its own benchmarks and strive to remain the leader in overall customer satisfaction among wireless users.

Bell Atlantic Mobile owns and operates the largest wireless network in the East, covering 120,000 square miles, and the largest chain of retail outlets devoted exclusively to wireless voice, data and paging. Based in Bedminster, NJ, Bell Atlantic Mobile has 6.2 million customers and 8,000 employees from Maine to Georgia and, through a separate subsidiary, in the Southwest. Through its "Wireless at Work…" community service program, the company uses its technology to help individuals and communities improve security and emergency communications. Bell Atlantic Mobile's parent is one of the world's largest wireless communications companies, with domestic operations in 25 states and international investments in Mexico, Europe and the Pacific Rim. For more information on Bell Atlantic Mobile visit: www.bam.com; on global operations visit: www.bellatlantic.com/worldwide.