Sprint PCS ushered in a new era of wireless communication today, announcing the launch of its PCS, or Personal Communication Services, for consumers and businesses in San Diego—one of the first cities in the country to launch the Sprint PCS service.
"The replacement for cellular is here," said Bruce Crair, vice president and general manager for Sprint PCS in Irvine. "We're not just providing consumers with a better phone, we're providing them with a better connection that's more clear, more affordable and more secure than conventional cellular services. We want people to experience that quality for themselves, so we're inviting them to make a call on us at any of our Sprint PCS stores in the area."
San Diego is one of the first cities to begin wireless service on the Sprint PCS network, which will be America's first 100-percent digital, 100-percent PCS, single-technology nationwide wireless network when fully deployed next year. Other cities where Sprint PCS recently started service are: Fresno, Calif; Milwaukee, Wis; Portland, Ore; and Spokane, Wash.
Remaining markets, including San Francisco, Dallas/FT. Worth, Boston, Miami, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver, Seattle, Kansas City and New York, will launch in the first half of 1997. When this first phase of launch is completed next year, Sprint PCS service will be available in 65 cities coast-to-coast, including 35 of the top 50 U.S. markets, offering consumers and businesses improved call quality, reliability and features superior to today's other wireless services. Sprint PCS, through its affiliate Sprint Spectrum/APC, launched the country's first PCS service in November 1995 in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore area.
Crair outlined the main advantages of Sprint PCS over existing cellular services:
- Sprint PCS service provides crystal-clear call quality, virtually eliminating cross-talk and static.
- Sprint PCS calls are encoded, which drastically reducers eavesdropping and unauthorized cloning of subscriber identification numbers common to analog cellular systems.
- Sprint PCS phones, manufactured by Sony/Qualcomm, have longer battery life. Customers can talk up to four hours or keep the phone on standby for more than two days on a single charge. Sprint PCS phones have a suggested retail price of $199 with a $30 service credit applied to a Sprint PCS customers' first bill.
- There's no long-term, cellular-style contract commitment.
- Affordable service plans are generally priced less than comparable service offerings from conventional cellular systems. The basic Sprint PCS service packages for San Diego consumers include the "San Diego Plan" with no monthly access fee and $0.35 per minute or the "Reward Plan" which includes 300 minutes per month for $90 and $0.25 per each additional minute. These promotional rate plans are available until February 14, 1997.
- All San Diego customers who sign up for Sprint PCS service by February 14, 1997 will automatically become members of the Sprint PCS "Pioneer Program." Membership benefits include a $50 pre-paid Sprint calling card, emergency phone exchange, personalized handset programming, the Executives' Forum, one handset upgrade after using 5,000 minutes of Sprint PCS service, and discounts on local events and dining.
- The Sprint PCS basic service package includes at no additional charge: voicemail, caller ID, call forwarding, call waiting, three-way calling, detailed billing and more. There is no service activation fee or separate interconnection charge.
- The first minute of incoming calls is free in customers' home service areas.
- With Sprint as the long distance carrier, customers pay a simple flat traveling rate of 50 cents per minute for calls placed or received in other Sprint PCS service areas.
- Sprint PCS service and Sprint/Sony co-branded phones are also available at all Dow Stereo/Video stores, as well as Circuit City and The Good Guys. For the first time in its history as a telecommunications equipment supplier, Sony will co-brand a product with all Sprint PCS phones displaying both the Sony and Sprint brand names.
- Additionally, Sprint PCS phones and accessories will be available to consumers through an agreement with May Company department stores including Robinsons-May.
- Sprint PCS phones and service will also be available through Cox Communications - San Diego.
- Sprint PCS Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sukawaty emphasized that the launch is just the first phase of Sprint PCS's plan to offer customers a nationwide PCS service using a single technology.
"During phase two, we will expand our existing coverage and fill in ourservice in those few areas where we currently do not have licenses," Sukawaty said. "In the Federal Communications Commission auctions, Sprint is the leading bidder in all areas not currently covered by Sprint PCS, which would give us licenses covering 260 million people. While other wireless service providers are regional operators or use a patchwork of technologies to achieve coverage, we will offer customers a seamless nationwide PCS network using a single technology. Other countries have similar national systems and now Sprint PCS has put the U.S. on the road to one."
Lucent Technologies is providing the CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access)network infrastructure equipment for the Sprint PCS network in all markets launching this year.
"We are very proud to be making history with Sprint PCS as they begin launching America's first nationwide PCS network," said Gerry Butters, President, North America Region for Lucent Technologies. "The people of Lucent Technologies look forward to providing Sprint PCS the innovative technology, equipment and services it needs to build the Sprint PCS network. This new network will enable more and more people to communicate easily and more clearly as they take advantage of the convenience of wireless connections and the advanced services offered by CDMA technology."
Sprint PCS is a partnership of Sprint Corporation, Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), Cox Communications, Inc. and Comcast Corporation. The partnership and its affiliates have licenses to provide PCS service in 33 Major Trading Areas with an aggregate population of 190 million making it potentially one of the largest wireless communications providers in the United States.
Cox Communications was one of only three companies - and the only cable company - to be awarded a "pioneer's preference" license from the FCC by demonstrating its innovative approach integrating cable infrastructure with PCS networks. Cox California PCS, Inc., a subsidiary of Cox Communications, is the operating business unit providing Sprint PCS service to the San Diego - Los Angeles Major Trading Area (MTA) which includes southern California, southwestern Nevada and northwestern Arizona.
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