Safety and security may be becoming a smaller factor for wireless subscribers. Fewer than half of respondents to an IDC/Link survey of current users reported they used their phone primarily for security or safety.

Last year, 54 percent of respondents said safety and security was the primary use of their phone. Respondents reported making about two emergency calls last year from their cellular or personal communications services phone.

The remaining respondents were evenly split-27 percent each-between using their phone mainly for business and mainly for convenience.

“Rate plans are getting so much cheaper that customers are using wireless more for convenience,” said Julie Rietman, an analyst at IDC/Link who co-authored the report. “People feel like they can use their phone for more than just safety and still be able to afford it.”

Lower prices also have contributed to a change in calling habits, with customers making about 12 calls and receiving about nine calls per week. Last year’s study found only about 25 percent of calls were incoming.

On average, total monthly household cellular/PCS spending was $60.79. Respondents said they spend about $34 on basic service charges, $8 on domestic long distance, $7.15 on additional airtime, $4 on roaming and less than $2 on international long distance.

Subscribers also are noticing limitations on wireless networks. For instance, the study found 18 percent of respondents, on at least a monthly basis, needed to make a call outside a metropolitan area but could not do so due to lack of coverage. Several respondents also reported wanting to use their wireless phone while traveling abroad but could not.

The wireless features used most often, according to the survey, are ringer volume and tone control, speed dialing, call waiting, call timers, voice mail and call forwarding. A majority of respondents indicated they did not use and had no interest in using an integrated alarm clock; an integrated calendar, phone book or note pad; an integrated pager; an integrated answering machine; a connection to the Internet on their handsets; a connection to a personal computer; three-way calling; and text messaging.

More than half of respondents (55.9 percent) purchased their cellular or PCS phone between the months of October and March.

About one-third of respondents didn’t know whether they had a digital or analog phone. Twenty-seven percent said they had an analog phone, 34 percent said they had a digital phone and 12 percent said they had a dual-mode phone. When asked what brand of phone they were using, respondents most frequently named Motorola Inc. and Nokia Corp.

In a separate survey of former and non-users of wireless services, nearly half of those who disconnected their service had service for less than a year. Only 32 percent of those who disconnected thought they would reconnect service.

Of those non-users who said they have considered purchasing wireless service, 34.3 percent chose not to because they didn’t need it and 22.4 percent said ongoing costs were too high.

When asked what a carrier would have to do to convince them to purchase a cellular or PCS phone in the next six months, 55.6 percent said there was nothing a carrier could do to persuade them to buy a phone.

IDC/Link conducted the telephone surveys in March and April.


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