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State of New Jersey Selects Sprint to Provide Relay Services to the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Community; New Call Center To Open in Vineland.

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- New Jersey has awarded Sprint (NYSE:S) a three-year, multi-million dollar Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) contract to provide assistive communications services to the deaf and hard of hearing within the state. Sprint replaces AT&T as the state's official provider of TRS, and will become responsible for delivering more than 200,000 minutes of assistive communications services each month. New Jersey joins 30 states, Puerto Rico, New Zealand and the federal government, who also benefit from Sprint Relay services.

The new Sprint Relay services will be available beginning Feb. 1, 2006, within New Jersey by dialing 711 or one of several toll-free numbers. The complete portfolio of Sprint Relay services also will be available to New Jersey citizens, including Sprint Relay Online, Video Relay Service, CapTel Relay Service and Relay Conference Captioning.

Sprint is also working with Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD) to open a relay service center in Vineland, N.J., which will be dedicated to support Sprint relay traffic in New Jersey. The center will employ approximately 50 people who will serve as communication assistants, the intermediary for communications between a deaf user and a hearing party. The center will open by Feb. 1, 2006.

"I am particularly pleased that we are establishing the relay center in Vineland," said Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew. "This will create 50 jobs that will enhance economic development efforts in Cumberland County. I've been very pleased to work on this project with New Jersey Bureau of Public Utilities President Jeanne Fox and officials from Sprint," Van Drew said, adding, "We owe them a great deal of gratitude."

"As this new phase of relay service delivery developed, the BPU's top priority has been to see this is located right here in our State, because we feel that best serves the approximately 720,000 hearing impaired residents of New Jersey," said President Fox. "We thank Assemblyman Van Drew for his leadership and for making the economic viability of this district a priority. With Sprint's experience and Vineland's top-notch labor pool to provide the talent, this will be a win-win situation for everyone," said Fox.

"Sprint is dedicated to broadening the availability of enhanced communications services and technologies for individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing," said Mike Ligas, director of Sprint Relay. "We're excited to begin serving New Jersey citizens by offering them new relay services and by bringing new jobs to the state with the relay service center in Vineland."

Traditional Relay Service involves a relay operator serving as an intermediary for phone calls between a deaf user and a hearing party. The TRS operator speaks words typed by a deaf user on a text telephone (TTY) or via the Internet, and relays the hearing person's spoken response by typing back to the deaf user.

"As a dentist, I have been able to help my deaf patients utilize TRS. The service provides communications without frustration or embarrassment," Van Drew said.

Video Relay Service (VRS) provides American Sign Language (ASL) users with an attractive alternative that offers them the opportunity to communicate by video conferencing, using ASL their native language, which may be preferred over the traditional TTY relay service. VRS requires users to have a personal computer or television monitor, a Web camera or videophone and high-speed Internet connectivity such as cable and DSL. Sprint Video Relay, powered by Communication Services for the Deaf (CSD), is a free service through the Internet that enables the deaf or hard of hearing user to communicate in AmASL to a hearing or standard telephone user. Sprint and CSD launched the first nationwide Video Relay Service in May 2002. To connect with a video interpreter visit: www.sprintvrs.com.

Sprint Relay Online(SM) is also a free service that combines TRS with the ease and ubiquity of the Internet, allowing users to make calls from any PC or Web-enabled Internet device without having to use traditional TTY equipment. To connect with a Sprint Relay Online operator visit: www.sprintrelayonline.com.

CapTel is an assistive technology aimed at easing communications for the more than 24 million Americans who are hard of hearing, have experienced hearing loss later in life or are deaf individuals with good vocalization skills. CapTel is a leading-edge technology developed by Ultratec, Inc. of Madison, Wis., that also requires a special CapTel(TM)-equipped phone in order to place a call through the CapTel Relay Service. The CapTel phone works like any traditional phone with callers talking and listening to each other, but with one very significant difference - captions are provided live for every call. The captions are displayed on the CapTel phone's built-in screen so the user can read the words while listening to the voice of the other party. This allows conversations to flow more naturally, allowing for normal interruptions and expressed emotions. CapTel services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Relay Conference Captioning(SM), developed by Caption Colorado, is a free service that combines real-time captioning and standard relay service to provide relay conference captioning calls for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals in New Jersey. By using an Internet text streaming platform supported by skilled captioners, RCC provides highly accurate real-time captioned text for any live conference call.

Sprint Relay Portfolio of Services

Sprint has 15 years of experience in providing relay services to persons who are deaf, hard of hearing or deaf-blind or who have a speech disability to communicate with hearing persons on the phone. Sprint's experience in the field provides the assurance that all Sprint Relay services will meet or exceed Federal Communications Commission requirements for telecommunications relay services (TRS). Relay service is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, with no restrictions on the number of calls placed or call length. For more information, visit www.sprintrelay.com.

About Sprint Nextel

Sprint Nextel offers a comprehensive range of wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business and government customers. Sprint Nextel is widely recognized for developing, engineering and deploying innovative technologies, including two robust wireless networks offering industry leading mobile data services; instant national and international walkie-talkie capabilities; and an award-winning and global Tier 1 Internet backbone. For more information, visit www.sprint.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Oct 25, 2005
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