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Finding Your Way Through the Wireless Maze

By yearend, most U.S. cities will have three different types of service 
available. Here are some standard prices and features for each technology in 
the New York metropolitan area:

The original wireless service converts a call to electric impulses that travel 
in the form of radio waves.

PRICE*                                  FEATURES
Service: $24.99/month includes          Caller ID,
30 minutes of free airtime.             voice mail
After that, 69 cents/minute plus        Battery life
long-distance charges.                  2 hours of
Phone:  $20 to $1,000                   talk time.

       PROS                                     CONS
Available across the country, so        Analog is subject to distor-
you can use your phone almost           tion and interference, so the
anywhere.  Because the system           calls are frequently lost. It is
is so widely used, the phones           not suitable for data transmission
are relatively inexpensive.             and can be less secure.
Voices sound almost as natural as
on a regular phone call.

Uses the same radio frequency as analog cellular, but it converts calls into 
the binary language of computers.

PRICE*                                  FEATURES
Service: $24.99/month                   Voice mail
includes 30 minutes of                  caller ID
free airtime. After that,               text messaging
59 cents/minute for local calls.        Battery life
Phone:  $149 with a phone               5 hrs.
trade-in, $199 without

         PROS                                   CONS
Eliminates hiss and distortion.         The price of the phone is much
Built-in encryption codes eliminate     higher, and not all areas have
fraud, and it is better suited          digital cellular, so  coverage is
for data transmission.                  spotty. Voices on digital phones
Can be used as a pager and for          can sound clipped and tinny.
transmitting E-mail and receiving
information services, such as news

Available in major cities by yearend, the technology is digital but transmits 
at a higher frequency than cellular services.

PRICE**                                 FEATURES
Service: $9.99/month, including $5      Paging, E-mail,
of free phone calls and 10              caller ID, fax
minutes each of free paging and         messages,
E-mail. After that, local calls cost    information
25 cents to 49 cents a minute.          services. Battery
Phone:  $99 to $249                     life: 4 hrs.

        PRO                             CONS
The price is the edge: This service     Coverage: PCS systems are by
less than local wired service.          definition local--the phones
Like digital cellular there             are not compatible with
is little distortion. It is secure      cellular frequencies, so they
from fraud and is suitable for data.    don't work outside the


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Updated June 15, 1997 by bwwebmaster
Copyright 1997, Bloomberg L.P.
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