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NEXTEL TESTS LANDLINE LONG-DISTANCE SERVICE

Enhanced specialized mobile radio operator Nextel Communications Inc. is offering landline long-distance service to its existing customers in several markets.

The nationwide carrier, which targets work groups because of its product’s instant-conferencing feature, has been calling Nextel customers to convince them to use long-distance service offered by Nextel in their offices and residences.

Like its wireless service, Nextel is offering per-second billing. Customers also receive their charges for wireless and landline service on one bill. A customer service representative said the offer was a nationwide offer to Nextel customers. It is unclear whether Nextel is reselling the service or leveraging its own network. Nextel declined to comment.

Nextel offers wireless service based on Motorola Inc.’s integrated Digital Enhanced Network technology. The service integrates a digital phone, alphanumeric pager and two-way radio in one handset. Analysts say the carrier has become a strong competitor for cellular and personal communications services operators as its service is suited for high-end cellular users who are frequent roamers. The company has been on the fast-track in loading customers, adding 380,800 new customers in the first quarter.

Many wireless companies are highly interested in offering more than one service to customers and bundling those services on one bill. Competition in the industry means retaining customers is a key issue. The more services consumers buy from them, the less likely they are to churn.

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