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AT&T Digital One Rate plan booms with buyers

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The initial numbers are in on AT&T's Digital One Rate plan. And AT&T execs couldn't be more pleased.

In May, AT&T announced the first national one-rate wireless service price plan, AT&T Digital One Rate. The plan provides customers a single, all-inclusive rate for incoming or outgoing calls anytime, anywhere in the United States, eliminating separate roaming and long-distance charges, according to a news release from AT&T.

Now, AT&T reports it has added about 200,000 customers on the Digital One Rate plans in the past eight weeks, the majority of whom are new customers. Also, digital minutes of use on the AT&T Wireless Services network have jumped 2,001 percent with the introduction of Digital One Rate. Digital customers now represent 41 percent of AT&T's subscribers, the release stated.

AT&T found the following results from a customer survey of Digital One Rate customers:

?65 percent of customers surveyed say they make more long-distance calls.

?54 percent of users surveyed increased usage of wireless communications between 100 and 600 minutes per month.

?70 percent say they use AT&T Digital One Rate service while traveling across the United States.

?76 percent said they would recommend AT&T Digital One Rate to someone else.

?61 percent surveyed said Digital One Rate was simple with easy-to-understand rates.

"AT&T is dead-set on using our technology to stimulate top-line growth," said C. Michael Armstrong, AT&T chairman, in the release. "We have again set the pace for the nation's wireless industry by dramatically simplifying wireless price plans in a way that is sure to stimulate wireless usage."

Armstrong said that AT&T's new price plan offers flat fees for a set amount of minutes monthly, without separate access charges, long-distance charges outside the local calling area or roaming charges.

AT&T Digital One Rate is offered on three monthly calling plans, priced as follows: 600 minutes of monthly air time for $89.99; 1,100 minutes of monthly air time for $119.99; and 1,400 minutes of monthly air time for $149.99. Additional minutes are billed at a flat rate of 25 cents per minute.

Digital One Rate plans require the use of a digital multi-network phone. These are the latest generation digital PCS phones, and they work everywhere on the largest digital wireless network in North America, operated by AT&T Wireless Services.

Digital multi-network phones also operate with other wireless carriers' digital and analog networks and, therefore, are capable of providing service to subscribers almost anywhere in North America.

AT&T currently has a one-year agreement with Nokia for exclusive distribution rights to the Nokia 6162 digital multi-network phone. The company also has a similar, but shorter term, agreement for the Nokia 6160 digital multi-network phone. These phones provide seamless wireless coverage throughout more than 7,000 cities nationwide by operating in the digital mode on 1900 MHz networks and digital and analog modes on 950 MHz networks.

These phones offer the standard Digital PCS features, as well as many new features, including a standard extended life battery with up to 200 hours (or eight days) of stand-by time more than three times the life of typical wireless batteries today. Also, an ultra-extended-life battery is now available, with up to 335 hours, or 13 days, of standby time and more than five hours of talk time.

The Nokia phones, each weighing less than six ounces, include a calendar, clock with alarm, calculator function and four games. The Nokia 6160 offers an open key pad; the 6162 has an activated flip keypad cover. The phones are available for $199 and $229, respectively.

Mike Fitzpatrick, AT&T Wireless sales manager for the Springfield/Joplin markets, stated that AT&T is seeing tremendous success with the Digital One Rate program.

"People like the advanced technology that's simple to use, and a straight rate with no surprises: all calls treated locally anywhere in 50 states," Fitzpatrick said in the release. AT&T Wireless Services' revenue is up 11.4 percent compared to second quarter 1997, largely driven by Digital One Rate, while total subscriber numbers are up 19.1 percent over the same period a year ago.

AT&T Wireless Services Inc. is the largest digital wireless carrier in the United States and also provides wireless data and aviation communications services. At the end of the first quarter 1998, AT&T Wireless Services Inc. had more than 2.6 million digital PCS customers and 8.4 million total wireless customers on a proportional count.

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