Nextel Kicks Off Flat-Rate Wireless Data Service

FRAMINGHAM (04/26/2000) - Nextel Communications Inc., in Reston, Virginia, has introduced nationwide flat-rate wireless data services aimed at the business market, with service initially available in 43 major markets and 750 cities.

The service is scheduled to be available throughout its network by midyear.

Nextel's flat-rate data plan starts at $14.95 per month, which provides for unlimited access to Microsoft Corp's MSN Mobile network, priority e-mail service through MSN Hotmail, wireless modem service and up to 300 text/numeric messages. AT&T Wireless launched the country's first nationwide fat-rate wireless data plan last month, charging $14.99 a month.

Nextel customers paying $19.95 per month will get all the above services, plus unlimited Web access. And for $39.95 per month they will also receive unlimited access to a wireless Web-based electronic dispatch service, a key feature for Nextel's customers in industries such as construction and real estate, according to Alan Reiter, president of Wireless Internet & Mobile Computing, a Chevy Chase, Maryland, consulting firm.

Reiter said the wireless link to Microsoft wireless services reflects Microsoft's $600 million investment in Nextel last year. But he said he wondered about the utility of MSN's consumer-oriented services to what he described as Nextel's "blue-collar" core corporate customers in industries such as construction.

Nextel customers will need an Internet-capable phone to access these services, and the company said 2 million of its users already have such phones. Users can also access wireless Web services and e-mail by connecting a personal digital assistant to a Nextel phone with a cable.

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