Families Stay Connected With Wireless

SEATTLE, WA — The wireless revolution is still in full force with more than 100 million U.S. subscribers turning to wireless for convenience, safety and peace of mind. Today, more and more families are balancing busy and sometimes stressful lives by equipping each member with a wireless phone.

"In the past, the trend was one wireless phone per household," said John Stratton, president for Verizon Wireless in the Northwest Area. "Today, we're finding that more and more families are buying multiple phones and are looking for affordable family calling plans."

According to the Strategis Group, a telecommunications research and consulting firm, family-calling plans offered by wireless carriers will explode in popularity in the next five years, growing to 18 million subscribers by 2004.

To meet the growing demand for family use, wireless companies offer special pricing that allow families to share bundles of airtime minutes. "Our research shows that standard calling plans didn't fit the needs of typical families," said Stratton. "We needed to really think about how a family might use our service and develop specific packages tailored to those needs."

Verizon Wireless was among the first wireless carrier to launch family calling plans. One of the most popular, the Family SharePlan, provides up to four lines of service on the nation's premier wireless network for one family. The program includes free long distance and a pool of shared minutes to use each month. Free unlimited calling between family members also is included and allows family members to use their wireless phones to call each other and talk as long as they want for free.

Most customers agree that affordable service plans and equipment have prompted them to buy additional phones. "My wife and I feel such freedom with our wireless phones, and with shared minutes and unlimited mobile-to-mobile calls we are motivated to stay in touch with each other, friends and family," said Matt Campbell, a Verizon Wireless customer.

During the holidays, wireless carriers also are offering special programs to make it affordable for spouses and family members to stay in touch. At Verizon Wireless, a Buy One, Get One Free program, is the current hot seller. For just $29.99, customers can purchase a Nokia 5185i and receive a second phone free when signing up for an eligible digital calling plan, including Family SharePlan.

"Wireless gives busy families an easy way to keep in touch," said Stratton. "Now, no matter how busy a family gets, each member is just a phone call away."

About Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S.with 26.3 million wireless voice and data customers and 3.5 million paging customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp -- now Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) -- and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). The new company includes the assets of Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. The company has a footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Verizon Wireless, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 32,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.