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NINE YEARS EQUALS 10 MILLION

 NEW IBERIA, La., Nov. 23 ~PRNewswire~ -- Dr. Lonnie Robichaux, a veterinarian in this rural Cajun town, today was chosen as the cellular telephone industry's symbolic 10 millionth subscriber.
 "People tend to lose sight of how young our industry is, but this remarkable milestone is a reminder of how swift cellular's growth has been in such a short span of time," said Thomas E. Wheeler, the president & CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association. Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (D-La.) and BellSouth officials joined Wheeler in honoring Robichaux.
 "In just nine years, faster than any other communications technology, we have created from scratch an industry that serves 10 million people," Wheeler continued. "In just nine years, we have extended the most advanced wireless technology yet developed from the big city to the countryside. In just nine years, we have revolutionized the way American society communicates, at the same time creating 100,000 jobs, investing $10 billion in equipment, and steadily lowering prices for consumers.
 "And the best is yet to come. Lonnie Robichaux is a new subscriber, so he doesn't know exactly what to expect yet. But it won't be long before Dr. Robichaux wonders how he went so long without having the ability to make and receive calls no matter where he is.
 "And it won't be long before America is treated to some amazing new wireless services, and the 10 million we mark today grows to 50 million," Wheeler concluded.
 The 30-year-old Robichaux, a native of Louisiana who was raised on a dairy farm in St. Martinsville, La., earned his DVM degree from Louisiana State University. He was selected by the cellular industry to symbolize America's embrace of wireless communications and feted here today in a ceremony on the courthouse steps by Tauzin, Wheeler and Joseph Larussa, the general manager of BellSouth Mobility's system here.
 In addition to a special certificate from CTIA, BellSouth presented Robichaux with a free cellular phone in recognition of the milestone, and also plans to donate $1,000 to the charity of his choice.
 BellSouth Mobility was asked to select the honorary customer because earlier this year, it was a BellSouth system that extended cellular service to the nation's last rural market. There are 734 cellular markets, and each now has at least one cellular system up and running. These systems serve 95 percent of the U.S. population.
 New Iberia was selected because as a rural area, it symbolizes the rapid expansion of service to non-urban consumers. New Iberia's cellular system also demonstrated cellular's role in supporting emergency and relief personnel during Hurricane Andrew.
 Tauzin was asked to participate in today's ceremonies not only because New Iberia is in his district, but because he is a long-time member of the House Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee who has understood and championed the importance of modern communications to rural America.
 "It's fitting we celebrate the 10 millionth subscriber to cellular services here today in Louisiana, for it was in Louisiana, in the offshore oil and gas business, where cellular technology was first put to the commercial test," Tauzin said.
 "We can see just how far the industry has come. A Louisiana citizen is confirming what 9,999,999 Americans already know -- just how useful this remarkable tool of communication is for businessmen and women, doctors, farmers, fishermen and all kinds of people who want to stay in touch and could not, if it weren't for cellular technology,"
 More than 7,600 customers are signing up for cellular service every day across America. CTIA determined the timing of the 10 millionth sign-up by extrapolating from its last subscriber count on June 30.
 "This is exciting for us at BellSouth Mobility because we are representing both our own company and the entire cellular industry in honoring this individual," said Larussa. "BellSouth made a commitment long ago to make cellular service widely available, because we know it makes a difference.
 "It makes a difference to individuals, from the farmer to the veterinarian, and to society. We find it significant, for example, that one of our bigger customers here is the Acadian Ambulance Service. Modern communications can have an even greater impact in the countryside at times than in the heart of a big city."
 Robichaux, in explaining his decision to sign up for cellular, noted he was a sole practitioner "and I'm out of the office and on the road a lot for emergencies and house calls.
 "I need to stay in constant contact with my office during these times, and a cellular telephone is going to make this possible," Robichaux added. "The cellular phone will definitely pay for itself."
 New Iberia is located in what the Federal Communications Commission labels Rural Service Area No. 459, or Louisiana 6. It is located to the south of Lafayette, not far from the Gulf of Mexico, and to the west of New Orleans.
 BellSouth Mobility is certainly an example of cellular's vitality, having grown over the past nine years from zero subscribers to more than 650,000 customers. BellSouth Mobility, in turn, is part of BellSouth Cellular, which now serves nearly 1.4 million customers.
 The cellular industry's rapid growth has been remarkable on several fronts, particularly given the weak state of the national economy over the past two years. While growing to 10 million subscribers, the industry has created about 100,000 new jobs, invested nearly $10 billion in plant and equipment, and produced a positive balance of trade in its sector by exporting American cellular technology abroad.
 "No other means of communications has ever grown as rapidly as cellular; not landline telephone, not broadcast TV, not cable TV, not beepers, not fax machines," said Wheeler.
 "And there's good reason for that. Americans everywhere -- in the city and the countryside -- want the capability to call people and receive calls no matter where they are. They want the mobility and flexibility that only cellular can provide."
 Earlier this week syndicated columnist Ben J. Wattenberg made much the same point, noting that technological advances like cellular "are yielding personal freedom, an American specialty."
 "Great inventions are liberating," he wrote. "Cellular lets people talk to people, even without a wall or wire."
 Similarly, the Wall Street Journal noted in a special Technology section this week that all of America is on the verge of a "portability revolution."
 "The cellular telephone transformed the way we thought about two- way communication, allowing us to be in touch wherever and whenever we wanted," the newspaper noted. The trend is accelerating today, the paper added, and soon will make it possible for Americans everywhere to structure their work around their lives, instead of vice versa.
 The first cellular phone system was switched on Oct. 13, 1983, in Chicago. Two months later, cellular service was offered in Washington and Baltimore. The cellular system serving New Iberia was activated by BellSouth Mobility in 1990.
 -0- 11~23~92
 ~CONTACT: Norman Black of the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, 202-785-0081; Wayne Dubois of BellSouth, 404-604-6490,; or Chris Robichaux for Rep. Tauzin, 202-225-4031~


CO: Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association; BellSouth ST: Louisiana IN: TLS SU:

KD -- DC016 -- 0550 11~23~92 12:38 EST
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