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MAHONING VALLEY Wireless service aims to be a Cingular sensation here



Published: Fri, June 15, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



The company will start out with five local retail centers and a sales force of 50.

By CYNTHIA VINARSKY

VINDICATOR BUSINESS WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Some of the big boys are already here: Sprint, Alltel, Cellular One, Nextel. Starting next week, wireless telephone customers in the Youngstown-Warren area will have one more company vying for their business.

Cingular Wireless, the second-largest wireless company in the country, will officially launch its phone service in the Mahoning Valley on Sunday with five customer service locations and a 50-member sales team.

Joseph Buscemi, vice president and general manager for the company's northern Ohio region, said Cingular is already serving 49 of the country's 50 major metropolitan areas and doing business in all but two of Ohio's largest cities -- Toledo and Youngstown.

Officials chose the Youngstown area for the company's next sales blitz, Buscemi said, because it's a natural follow-up to its Cleveland market. "The Youngstown area has a population of more than a half-million people, a significant market for us," Buscemi said.

The Valley also is "underpenetrated" by wireless providers, he said, noting that some cities have as many as seven or eight providers competing for business.

Locations: The Atlanta-based wireless company has opened stores at 650 Boardman-Canfield Road, Boardman; in the Eastwood Mall; and in a plaza across from the Southern Park Mall. Kiosks also are open in both malls; the service will be available at Best Buy, Staples and Circuit City; and the company plans to open more of its own stores in the region over the next 90 days.

He said the company had an "incredible response" to open houses it conducted to fill openings for business-to-business sales consultants and store personnel. "We were overwhelmed with fabulous candidates," he said.

The company will offer a special package in the Youngstown market. For home plans costing between $29.99 and $49.99, Cingular will tack on 50 percent of the allowed number of minutes for free. The company also provides a free phone, free long distance and free unlimited night and weekend calls.

Currently providing wireless voice and data service to 20.5 million people, Cingular has 15,000 retail locations and revenue topping $13 billion. Only Verizon is larger.

The company was formed last year as a joint venture between SBC Communications and BellSouth.




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