First Cellular Selects Ericsson for GSM/GPRS Network Overlay

12/3/2003 - First Cellular of Southern Illinois has selected Ericsson to overlay its existing 850 MHz CDMA network with a GSM/GPRS network. According to the two-year $5.5 million deal, deployment will begin immediately.

Under the terms of the contract, Ericsson will deploy a complete EDGE-ready GSM/GPRS network throughout First Cellular's coverage area in southern Illinois. In addition, Ericsson will provide installation, engineering, testing and program management support, and optimization services. The contract is the first between the two companies.

"First Cellular is devoted to quality wireless coverage and customer service, and Ericsson looks forward to assist in providing those services to the people of southern Illinois," Ericsson Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Angel Ruiz said. "This is another sign of the progress of advanced wireless services throughout all parts of the country."

"We believe advanced services are important to rural America and First Cellular is pleased to be working with Ericsson in delivering those services to our customers," said Terry Addington, President and Chief Executive Officer of First Cellular of Southern Illinois.

Ericsson is shaping the future of Mobile and Broadband Internet communications through its continuous technology leadership. Providing innovative solutions in more than 140 countries, Ericsson is helping to create the most powerful communication companies in the world.

First Cellular, which is a partnership of seven independent Illinois landline exchange carriers markets to 485,000 pops in Southern Illinois. First Cellular began service in 1993, and has invested over $65 million to provide wireless communications to the people of Southern Illinois.

First Cellular started with only a handful of employees and three retail locations. In the past 10 years, First Cellular's subscriber base has grown by over 4000 percent. Thanks to this amazing growth, First Cellular now employs over 150 people, and utilizes over 80 CDMA digital cell sites to provide the highest level of local wireless coverage.

First Cellular's partnership includes: Crossville Telephone Company, Egyptian Telephone Company, Hamilton County Telephone Cooperative, Odin Telephone Exchange Inc., Shawnee Telephone Company, Harrisonville Telephone Company, and Wabash Telephone Cooperative Inc. Each of First Cellular's partners is a local, well-established company in its respective community.

First Cellular's mission focuses on doing business with its neighbors and taking special pride in providing the best quality of service and technology available to its customers.

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