The newest arrival in one of cellular’s newest markets-prepaid-is Go Wireless International Ltd., led by an entrepreneur banking his dollars on consumers with damaged credit. The company is venturing new approaches to selling service.

Go Wireless debuted in Florida a month ago and success so far has exceeded the company’s initial expectations, said Michael Clifford, president and chief executive officer. The company is selling service through electronics and wireless dealers, supermarkets and pharmacies in areas of Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Daytona, Fla.

The company, said Clifford, aims to be carrier-sensitive, working closely with clients to meet their specific marketing and network needs. The same goes for distributors. The Merritt Island, Fla., company employs a number of distribution channels, selling service differently depending on the outlet and market. Methods of sale are specific down to the level of a consumer’s ethnicity, said Clifford.

In addition to people with poor credit history, individuals and companies that want to limit use for budgeting or accounting reasons are market targets. Prepaid keeps service simple.

Go Wireless offers two rate plans. Users can pay $1.39 per day, and 69 cents per minute or 99 cents per day and 99 cents per minute. Activation costs $75, which includes $25 worth of calling time. Both service plans include long-distance calling anywhere and anytime in the United States and Canada for no extra charge. Going forward, Clifford noted, rate plans and calling plan features will vary with carriers’ preferences.

Prepaid customers can have their own phone modified for prepaid service or purchase a remanufactured Motorola Inc. handset for between $75 and $200.

A user’s prepaid account is debited when calls are made. The account balance can be restored by several forms of payment.

Go Wireless’ debit platform uses fraud-prevention measures and will allow roaming at the carrier’s option.

Voice mail is a free part of service, accessed by calling a toll-free number. Subscribers call the number to retrieve messages and friends or clients of the subscriber can call the number to leave messages. Carriers can choose for all incoming cellular calls to automatically divert to the customer’s voice mail, or to send the live calls directly to the user.

In the next month, Go Wireless plans to start prepaid service in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and upstate New York. Test marketing presently is being conducted in those areas, said Clifford.

Go Wireless’ switch-based platform supports Interim Standard-41 and uses proprietary software designed to run on a small personal computer-based units or robust switches. The platform supports personal communications services and other digital services as well, said Go Wireless.

GTE Telecommunications Services Inc. of Tampa, Fla., is developing the technical architecture for Go Wireless’ prepaid service, said Clifford. Chase Bank of New York provides clearinghouse/settlement services.

In addition to himself, Clifford’s investors include William Turner, an investment banker, and Lucien Warner, a major partner and chief financial officer of Westcor Realty L.P., based in Phoenix.

Go Wireless currently is completing second mezzanine financing, said Clifford, from which one of three major telecommunications investors is expected to come into play.


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