by Char Webster

Nextel Communications

Wireless telecommunications companies are going after Southern California cellular minutes like never before. The minutes are here, and plenty of them, with what is one of the world’s largest mobile work forces and a lifestyle that seems to have many Southern Californians & #283;connected & #238; through cellular phones.

Once you sign up, most of these wireless providers will start charging for all those rounded up minutes, incomplete calls, roaming charges if you leave your home area and complicated rate plans which force you to purchase buckets of minutes you may or may not use. It’s these kinds of charges, along with our need to stay in touch, that make the wireless business in California so lucrative and attractive. It’s also why the phone companies will so easily subsidize free phones, give away free weekend and off-peak minutes as well as all kinds of other promotional goodies and freebies.


A large percentage of cellular phone users’ calls are back to their offices or to the other people in their work groups. By developing a system that combines a digital cellular phone with a two-way radio for instant access to a cell phone, a group or all users on the system, along with an integrated message display pager, Southern California-based telecommunications company, Nextel devised a method in which businesses can increase their productivity while lowering their communications costs. With a radio coverage area that stretches from Las Vegas to San Diego and Santa Barbara to Palm Springs, the system allows many cellular phone calls to be replaced with a clear digital radio call for about half the cost. Even more is saved when users of the system send text messages.

A case study of an organization that has succesfully applied Nextel’s system is Pacific Coast Building Products, which operates six divisions statewide, each with attached offices and yards. Pacific Coast now uses 125 Nextel portables and vehichle installed units. Phil Harless, fleet manager said, “We made the switch primarily for the digital dispatch service because it gives us instant access to the people we need to reach within our company. Because of the great sound quality and coverage we get with this system, we’ve not only made communicating more efficient, we’ve been able to significantly reduce our wireless service costs as well.”

Other companies have found different ways to utilize integrated systems like the one described above including:

– A major office machine manufacturer puts their two-way radios to work to allow field technicians to locate needed parts. By putting out a call to similarly equipped technicians in the area, a service technician can pick up a needed part within minutes. Costs are reduced and customer satisfaction has been increased dramatically;

– A Southern California computer consulting company with offices in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and San Diego counties uses their system to hold weekly inter-office staff meetings while sending out evening text messages to field technicians with early morning schedule changes;

– A team of Orange County brokers uses the system to stay in instant touch with their expanded group of title, escrow and mortgage companies while at the same time making themselves easier to reach for their clients. Their system enables them to have one phone number that allows them to be reached by phone, numeric page, or text message, as well as being able to forward calls to any phone at any location;

– A major fuel distributor switched from its conventional cellular provider to an integrated system last July and saw their cellular bill drop from $2,250 to $1,177 for the same number of agents.

Thousands of other businesses in Southern California are discovering the benefits of communicating more and paying less. The key is to explore the exciting alternatives, such as systems like Nextel’s, which integrate cell phones, two-way radios and message display pagers.

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