BUSINESS BRIEFS

Metrocall Inc. signed an agreement to provide U.S. Paging Services Inc. access to one of its nationwide paging frequencies. In addition, U.S. Communications Inc. will provide cellular rate plans and activation processing to Metrocall. U.S. Paging and U.S. Communications are subsidiaries of USCI Inc. “This package will benefit our mass merchandise retail channels,” said Bruce A. Hahn, president and chief executive officer of USCI. “The rate plan in particular will target specific consumer segments with a unique payment and usage format.”

Lightbridge Inc. agreed to supply its customer acquisition system to AT&T Wireless Services Inc. Lightbridge said the system will streamline and standardize AT&T’s customer acquisition process and improve customer retention. “Our goal is to make the process of signing up for wireless service as simple and convenient as possible,” said Tim Travaille, chief information officer of AT&T Wireless Services. “We believe the integration of the Lightbridge system will make the process significantly more efficient and pleasant for our customers.”

Casio Computer Company Ltd. and its American subsidiary, Casio Phonemate Inc., plan to enter the U.S. pager market with Casio pagers. The Casio pager line will complement the company’s recently introduced TP-340 answering machine, which automatically calls a pager when a new message is received. The new pagers will be available by mid-1997 through paging service providers and retail sales outlets nationwide.

Unplugged Communications Inc. announced plans to go public next year. Company President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Bommarito said the company has experienced “explosive growth … with sales exceeding $100 million in fiscal 1996.” The company provides a fulfillment system that delivers products, training, support and repair services to retail outlets.

Itron Inc. has signed an agreement to provide its automatic meter reading services and equipment to The Southern Connecticut Gas Co. According to the agreement, Itron will own, install, operate and maintain the system for 174,000 of Southern’s meters in Connecticut. Southern is a wholly owned subsidiary of Connecticut Energy Corp. Installation is scheduled to begin early next year and will be completed in about 12 months.

Personal communications services provider Powertel, a subsidiary of InterCel Inc., opened its Birmingham, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., markets. Its Gainesville and Tallahassee, Fla., markets were scheduled to launch before the end of the year. “The opening of the Birmingham and Jackson markets represents more than just the start of operations in two more cities,” said Allen E. Smith, president and chief executive officer of Powertel. “These are vital links to our system, helping to interconnect markets that have already opened, and increase the area in which customers can user our service.”

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