Cingular Wireless, SBC Communications, And BellSouth Introduce Unique Device For Routing Incoming Wireless Calls To Wireline Numbers
FastForward Furthers Wireless-Wireline Integration Between Cingular And
SBC Companies, BellSouth
FastForward Cradle Allows Cingular Customers to Rollover Even More Minutes
Texas, San Antonio, Texas, September 9, 2003
Cingular Wireless and its parent companies SBC Communications Inc. (NYSE: SBC) and BellSouth (NYSE: BLS) today introduced FastForwardTM — one of the wireless industry's first devices to marry the convenience of wireless service with the value of a wireline phone. The patented FastForward device — which works exclusively with Cingular Wireless service — will be available beginning Oct. 1.
This unique device — designed as a cradle to hold a wireless phone — simply plugs into an electrical outlet. When the Cingular Wireless phone is "cradled," calls to the wireless phone are forwarded to a designated landline phone, while the wireless phone's battery is automatically re-charged. Cingular customers with a FastForward device can get unlimited incoming wireless calls (minutes) forwarded to their landline phone in the local calling area — without the minutes counting against their monthly wireless calling plan for just $2.99 per month plus the cost of the device. The service is free to SBC residential local phone company customers who receive a single bill for Cingular wireless and landline services, and BellSouth customers who sign up for a combined bill and two other features.
For Cingular Wireless and its parent companies, SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth, the introduction of the FastForward device is part of a larger initiative to create a new category of products that simplify the calling process and change how people communicate. By integrating wireless and wireline services and networks, the companies are delivering unique and differentiating offerings that will help SBC companies and BellSouth acquire and retain customers, while at the same time helping Cingular grow its subscriber base.
"In a sea of complex communications options, simplicity is refreshing," said Marc Lefar, chief marketing officer, Cingular Wireless. "FastForward simplifies our customers' lives by giving them greater control over their communications — wireless or wireline, at home or on the go."
Here's how FastForward works:
Simply add the landline number to the wireless phone's address book and insert the wireless phone into the FastForward cradle. An indicator light illuminates on the cradle, showing the forwarding service is active. Now, calls that would have gone to the wireless phone will ring the designated landline telephone. To deactivate, just press the CANCEL button on the front of the device and remove the wireless phone from the cradle.
FastForward will be available throughout Cingular's coverage area beginning Oct. 1 and in Puerto Rico later this year.
"FastForward is yet another example of how Cingular provides cost-effective, creative solutions for its customers. Along with RolloverTM, this will set Cingular apart from the pack of 'me-too' wireless carriers by providing a service that our research indicates customers want," continued Lefar.
"Through our initiative with Cingular we're creating truly differentiated products that will fundamentally change how our customers access and use communications services," said Ray Wilkins, president, SBC marketing and sales. "Integrating wireless with core telephone services will differentiate us from competitors and help us gain and retain customers."
"The integration of wireless and wireline has always been important to BellSouth and its customers. With virtually all of our wireline customers capable of being served by Cingular, this announcement is significant," said Dick Anderson, president customer markets, BellSouth.
The new FastForward device can be purchased as a stand-alone item at all Cingular Wireless retail locations for just $39.99. SBC residential customers purchasing new Cingular Wireless service can call their consumer service centers* and also purchase the device for the same amount plus tax, shipping and handling. (Compatible wireless phones must be purchased separately. Customers also need to add unlimited call forwarding to their Cingular Wireless service calling plan for a charge of up to $2.99 a month to not have minutes count against their wireless calling plan. The service is free to SBC and BellSouth with certain packages.)
SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth each already have introduced service bundles that provide conveniences such as one-stop shopping, a single bill and discounts for both wireless and wireline services. FastForward is just one more benefit to being a customer of both Cingular Wireless and an SBC or BellSouth local phone company.
Initially, the FastForward device will be compatible with select Nokia and Motorola wireless phone models. Additional FastForward-compatible wireless phones, including Sony Ericsson and Siemens, should be available as early as Nov. 1.
More Wireless — Wireline Integration
FastForward is one in a series of exclusive products and services recently announced from Cingular Wireless and its parents designed to simplify the calling process for wireless customers. For example, in June, Cingular Wireless, SBC Communications Inc. and BellSouth announced MinuteShareSM, a new service enabling SBC or BellSouth residential customers to share a single bucket of wireline long distance (in states where SBC Long Distance is authorized to sell service) and wireless local and long distance minutes. MinuteShare is available in select SBC markets now and is expected to launch more broadly this autumn.
The companies also will implement a single voice mailbox for both wireline and wireless phones, giving customers greater convenience and simplicity. These strategic initiatives are aimed at creating a world of truly integrated telecommunications services. For more information about FastForward, please visit www.cingular.com or call 866-CINGULAR.
*The FastForward device is available through SBC customer service centers only to SBC residential (not business) customers who become new Cingular customers. SBC residential customers who are existing Cingular customers will be referred to Cingular Wireless to purchase the FastForward device.
About Cingular Wireless
Cingular Wireless, a joint venture between SBC Communications (NYSE - SBC) and BellSouth (NYSE - BLS), serves more than 23 million voice and data customers across the United States. A leader in mobile voice and data communications, Cingular is the only U.S. wireless carrier to offer RolloverTM, the wireless plan that lets customers keep their unused monthly minutes. Cingular has launched the world's first commercial deployment of wireless services using Enhanced Data for Global Evolution (EDGE) technology. Cingular provides cellular/PCS service in 43 of the top 50 markets nationwide, and provides corporate e-mail and other advanced data services through its GPRS, EDGE and Mobitex packet data networks. Details of the company are available at www.cingular.com.
About SBC Communications
SBC Communications Inc. (www.sbc.com) is one of the world's leading data, voice and Internet services providers. Through its world-class networks, SBC companies provide a full range of voice, data, networking and e-business services, as well as directory advertising and publishing. A Fortune 30 company, SBC is America's leading provider of high-speed DSL Internet Access services and one of the nation's leading Internet Service Providers. SBC companies currently serve 56 million access lines nationwide. In addition, SBC companies own 60 percent of America's second-largest wireless company, Cingular Wireless, which serves more than 23 million wireless customers over its nationwide voice and data networks. Cingular was the first company in the United States to commercially launch EDGE technology. Internationally, SBC companies have telecommunications investments in 22 countries.
About BellSouth Corporation
BellSouth Corporation is a Fortune 100 communications services company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. BellSouth serves more than 45 million local, long distance, Internet and wireless customers in the United States and 14 other countries.
Consistently recognized for customer satisfaction, BellSouth provides a full array of broadband data solutions to large, medium and small businesses. In the residential market, BellSouth offers DSL high-speed Internet access, advanced voice features and other services. BellSouth also offers long distance service throughout its markets, serving both business and residential customers. The company's BellSouth AnswersSM package combines local and long distance service with an array of calling features; wireless data, voice and e-mail services; and high-speed DSL or dial-up Internet service. BellSouth also provides online and directory advertising services through BellSouth® RealPages.comSM and The Real Yellow Pages®.
BellSouth owns 40 percent of Cingular Wireless, the nation's second largest wireless company, which provides innovative data and voice services.