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Toll Free Cellular initiates roll-out of wireless 800 service.

SEATTLE--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Nov. 25, 1996--

Goldman, Sachs Affiliated Funds Supports Nationwide Expansion

Toll Free Cellular today announced plans to initiate national expansion of its #800 brand of free cellular calling services. National roll-out is fueled by an infusion of capital, provided primarily by limited partnerships affiliated with Goldman, Sachs & Co., and supported by agreements with a number of wireless carriers including Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems, AirTouch Communications, 360 Communications and CMT Partners and on-going negotiations with over 20 major carriers, including Comcast Cellular, United States Cellular , Aerial Communications, GTE Wireless in PCS markets and NextWave Telecom.

The Seattle-based company which enables businesses to offer the wireless equivalent of 1-800 service via #800 numbers launched its service last year in the greater Seattle/Tacoma market with AT&T Wireless Services and AirTouch Communications. In response to the offer of free cellular calls, subscribers have made over 500,000 #800 calls, the equivalent of one call per subscriber in less than a year.

"Our success in the Seattle market has proven the demand for free cellular calling exists, and now we are taking the next step in a coordinated effort that will ultimately lead to free cellular calling coast-to-coast," said Mark Lazar, Toll Free Cellular's chief executive officer. "By the end of 1997, millions of cellular and PCS subscribers will be expanding their use of wireless phones through access to free outbound calls."

Free Cellular Calling A Windfall for Wireless Service Providers

Toll Free Cellular's service represents a sizable opportunity for the wireless industry to generate new revenue through incremental use. Through the #800 numbers provided by the company, businesses are able to pay for the toll and airtime cost associated with inbound cellular calls and provide improved service and convenience to cellular users. Previously, all cellular calls incurred per-minute airtime charges, whether the call was to a local, long distance or 1-800 number.

"The cost of cellular airtime had caused subscribers to be disciplined about how they used their phones, often deciding to postpone calls to order take-out or make an appointment until they could be made free from a traditional phone," Lazar said. "But the offer of a free cellular call encourages cellular consumers to make calls when and where it occurs to them."

Lazar also noted that free cellular calling enhances the value of wireless phones.

"#800 numbers increase the convenience and productivity offered by cellular phone ownership. Even subscribers who bought their phones just for emergency reasons are finding more reasons to use their cellular service," Lazar said.

IN Network Solution Makes Implementation Easy

Toll Free Cellular has established an intelligent network (IN) solution to translate and route free cellular calls nationally. This network grade solution utilizes Illuminet's nationwide Signal System 7 (SS7) infrastructure with custom designed IN software from AG Communication Systems. The technical implementation requires wireless carriers to deploy only minimal resources, both in terms of time and money. No additional investment in hardware or software is necessary; only a one-time modification to existing software is required.

The IN technical solution was recently tested with United States Cellular in its Tulsa, Oklahoma, market. Smooth implementation and a full suite of test calls were completed within a day confirming the free cellular calling revenue opportunity can be tapped with the commitment of only minimal resources.

Goldman, Sachs Investment Follows Success In Seattle

A privately held company, Toll Free Cellular this month received a $14 million investment primarily from Goldman, Sachs Partners II and related funds, funding that supports the nationwide introduction of free cellular calling. The balance of the company's capital was secured from private investors.

National expansion efforts are based on the successful

introduction of free cellular calling in the launch market,


More than 1,300 #800 numbers are in use in Western Washington.

The customer base includes local and national businesses in a variety of key markets. Representative customers include Pizza Hut, Olive Garden Restaurants, Boston Markets, Hilton Hotels, Budget Rent-A-Car, 800-Flowers, Bank of America and Norwest Mortgage.

Over 124,000 subscribers have dialed a #800 number and 65% of those have called again, creating an early pattern of repeat use.

Monthly call volume continues to grow steadily current call volume is on pace to deliver over 2.4 million minutes of use a year.

"The results from the launch market demonstrate pent-up consumer demand for services that enhance the utility of wireless phones," Lazar said. "The demand for wireless 800 service has existed since the first wireless phones were introduced."

CONTACT: Toll Free Cellular

Lynn Ridenour, 206/505 2218
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 25, 1996
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