McCaw Cellular begins Cellular One transition to AT&T brand
SEATTLE -- April 10, 1995 -- McCaw Cellular Communications Inc., the nation's leading provider of wireless services and a subsidiary of AT&T, changed the name of its cellular operations from Cellular One to AT&T Wireless Services in the states of Washington and Oregon today.
In addition, the company has changed the name of its in-flight communications company from Claircom to the Aviation Communications Division of AT&T Wireless Services; although outside of the Americas, the division will operate as Claircom International. McCaw changed the name of its Messaging (paging) Division in January of this year.
"Today we officially usher in a new era of wireless communications by beginning the national introduction of the AT&T brand name to cellular service. It is easily one of the most recognizable brands in the world," said Steve Hooper, president and chief executive officer of McCaw Cellular Communications Inc. "Customers of AT&T Wireless Services can expect the same high quality and innovative wireless services that they have become accustomed to with McCaw. In addition, they will be presented with an exciting future that could not have happened without AT&T."
The name transition follows the closing of the $11.5 billion merger between McCaw and AT&T on Sept. 20, 1994. Over the past months, McCaw has been converting its systems to offer equal access to long distance providers. Converting to equal access fulfills a requirement by the Consent Decree which both companies signed at the close of the merger with the Department of Justice. The name transition will occur in McCaw markets following their equal access conversion. Nationally, AT&T can market cellular services when McCaw has converted at least 60 percent of its cellular customers to equal access. Following Washington and Oregon other company-owned markets will begin offering equal access every two weeks through the end of November when the name change is expected to be completed.
New digital features
Some of the first services that will be marketed under the AT&T name include new digital network features such as caller ID, call waiting indicator (if the customer has voice mail service), alphanumeric paging, short messaging, a digital control channel that will help extend a phone's battery life by as much as ten times, and a host of other products that are now under development. McCaw has introduced the digital network in the majority of its markets and already has more than 350,000 customers using the state-of-the-art service.
A $1.5 trillion industry
AT&T estimates the global information industry to be worth $1.5 trillion and wireless is the industry's fastest growing segment. Today, more than 25 million people use cellular in the United States. Nearly 28,000 new customers sign up for cellular service in the U.S. each day. McCaw Cellular has 17 percent of those customers or 4,030,000 people.
"What customers clearly want today is the freedom to communicate with people, not places," said Hooper. "AT&T Wireless Services will provide a host of benefits to customers. More innovative products and services will be possible by combining McCaw's expertise with that of Bell Laboratories, the nation's leading research facility where cellular was invented. We envision one-stop shopping some day with both wired and wireless communications."
AT&T Wireless takes to the sky
In addition to today's cellular news, McCaw announced that its in-flight communications division, formerly known as Claircom, has also changed its operating name to AT&T Wireless Services domestically, and Claircom International for operations outside of the Americas. The Aviation Communications Division provides digital air-to-ground, and soon ground-to-air, voice and data communications services. Currently the group has nearly 2,500 commercial aircraft under contract including the fleets of Air France, American, Alaska, Austrian, Delta (international fleet only), Kuwait, Lauda, Lufthansa, Northwest, Scandinavian Airline System, Southwest, and SwissAir.
"The AT&T name on our product assures that both airlines and air travelers will receive a high quality in-flight communication service," said Keith Grinstein, president of AT&T Wireless Services, Aviation Communications Division. "Over the past two years we have become a world wide market leader in this industry and we intend to significantly expand the communications services available to passengers in the years ahead."
McCaw Cellular Communications Inc. is the nation's largest provider of wireless voice and data communications. McCaw is a wholly owned subsidiary of AT&T. The company is the nation's fifth largest messaging service provider and a world leader in air-to-ground communications services.