Who are these guys? It’s a question that has popped into my mind repeatedly after 20-plus years as a journalist now covering the wireless communications field.

I can’t compete with Andy Rooney, but I’d bet there’s plenty of raw material for him here if he decides to take a look at the wireless industry.

There’s APT, not to be confused with APC, which I did once, much to my chagrin. PCS PrimeCo now has transformed itself into PrimeCo Personal Communications. At least the PrimeCo heart of the name remains intact.

Sprint Cellular, a name that tells you important information, now has become Three-sixty Communications Co., a title that complicates alphabetical placement in a Rolodex.

“Where the hell is 360?” said an exasperated reader who called the New York bureau of RCR searching for the erstwhile Sprint Cellular. Has directory assistance kept pace with the nomenclature transformation?

That call, a few weeks ago, was my first inkling that I have company in the “misery” of trying to keep track of all these “also known as” and sound-alike wireless companies.

The second suggestion that confusion abounds came from a local florist, heavily dependent on wireless communications for business use. Because he no longer has any idea who these myriad companies are that contact him daily with deals, he said he absolutely refuses to change carriers.

Then there was a telling statement from Cynthia White, chief operating officer of Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile. “Some of our competitors hoped we’d change our name,” she said. “Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile doesn’t exactly roll off your tongue, but it has good name recognition.”

Last but certainly not least was the response of Lawrence T. Babbio, Jr., vice chairman of Bell Atlantic Corp., to an admittedly leading question. “Do you think the merger between Bell Atlantic and Nynex will allow you to simplify things for your customers to avoid some of the confusion going on?” I asked him.

“I would like to make life simple for people,” replied Babbio, designated chief operating officer of wireless and global operations for the combined company, which will be called Bell Atlantic. “My opinion is that things in our business have been much more confusing than they have to be for the past 10 years or so.”

May I say, “my sentiments exactly” … with apologies and deference due to all those marketing people far more knowledgeable than I whose expertise goes into the alphabet soup of brand image and identity.


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