Aerial Communications Inc. launched personal communications services June 2 in Kansas City and Pittsburgh-the latest of five markets the PCS provider has rolled out in the last 11 weeks.
Aerial’s initial coverage of the Kansas City area encompasses nearly 70 percent of the major trading area’s total population as well as providing a large geographical area of coverage. Aerial said its Kansas City operations debuted with the market’s largest digital PCS coverage and the second-largest footprint of any wireless carrier in the Kansas City area.
Chicago-based Aerial will compete in Kansas City with Sprint Spectrum L.P.’s Sprint PCS service and cellular carriers Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems and an AT&T Wireless Services Inc./AirTouch Communications Inc. joint venture doing business as Cellular One.
“Our Phase I coverage extends west from past Warrensburg, Mo., to Lawrence and beyond Topeka, Kan.,” said Don Warkentin, Aerial’s president and chief executive officer. “Coverage goes north past St. Joseph and Cameron, and south to past Ottawa and Harrisonville. And within six months, we’ll complete our buildout to such areas as Atchinson, Concordia and Williamsburg.”
In Pittsburgh, Aerial will begin with more than 100 points of distribution and will face competition from Sprint and cellular carriers Bell Atlantic Nynex Mobile and AT&T.
In the last two weeks, Aerial has increased its covered population from nearly 9 million to 13 million and is now live in five of its six MTAs. These include its first market, Columbus, Ohio, launched in late March, as well as Houston and Minneapolis.
Aerial-which offers per-second billing-said sales in all of its markets are running ahead of expectations. The company said its service prices in its two newest markets will average 12 percent less than traditional cellular services, with the greatest opportunity for savings available to the most frequent users.
Warkentin called Aerial’s per-second billing system “a good example of [our] pay-for-what-you-need, pay-for-what-you-use approach to the market. We charge customers only for the time they talk,” Warkentin explained. “If it’s 61 seconds, we don’t round up to two minutes. That’s just not a good value, or a fair deal. With per-second billing, we don’t bill from when the customer pushes the `send’ button. Customers pay only for the time they talk, from when the person they are calling answers, until they hang up.”
In Kansas City and Pittsburgh, Aerial also will try to lure new customers with features like voice mail, caller ID, numeric paging, detailed billing and the first minute of all incoming calls offered at no extra charge.
When Aerial launches service in its Tampa, Fla., market-slated for the end of June-the company expects to be among industry leaders with nearly 16 million covered pops.
Within six months of each market’s launch, Aerial anticipates its network will cover more than 80 percent of its licensed pops, representing more than 21 million people.