Wireless Service Targets World Travelers

Nextel Communications Inc. today will launch a wireless service that allows international travelers to use one phone number and one phone for mobile communications in the United States and in 65 other countries--and sets a flat per-minute rate for international calls.

The service, called Nextel Worldwide, is aimed at the growing legion of world travelers who find international calling both difficult and expensive. Unlike some competing international offerings, Nextel's service does not require customers to switch phones or phone chips once they leave the United States--and the same phone number works wherever the service is available, the company said.

To use the service, customers must buy a new Motorola phone that includes both the technology Nextel uses in the United States and a technology widely used in Europe and elsewhere. The phone is being sold now by Nextel for $249 for a limited time.

The worldwide service must be paired with a standard Nextel calling plan and costs an extra $5 per month, but that add-on fee will be waived for customers who subscribe by June 30.

The international calling rates, which include long-distance charges, range from 99 cents per minute in Europe to between $2.99 and $4.99 per minute in Africa, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia.

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