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Cell Phones Sell, but Price Remains a Concern

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Service providers try to lure customers in with special packages and free phones.
CARY — Among the hot holiday items this year, cellular phones. Lots of peopleare picking up the phones, along with the service packages. But while dealers are signing up more than 10 million new subscribers a year, thereare still some people who'd rather do it the old fashioned way.

Bettye Spencer will give someone in her family a cell phone thisChristmas. She believes it's the way to go.

Spencer's not alone. Industry figures estimate more than 40% of thecell phone sales for the year take place during the fourth quarter,especially around holiday time.

"I think like any electronic goods, people have a heightened interest inunique gifts," explains Nextel regional president Scott Hoganson. "Cellular, for example, has been in that focus for the past five years."

Even as cellphones have become a mainstay of America's biggest commercialholiday, a lot of people have still kept their plans for owning one cell phone on hold. The biggest hang-up is price.

These days, entry level packages go for as low as $16 a month, witha phone thrown in for a buck. Dealers WRAL spoke with won't speculate onhow much lower the prices could go.

Cellular One salesperson John Powers thinks it all depends on how theuser is going to make the commitment to utilize the phone.

Another option for cost conscious callers is a pre-paid cellphone callingcard, like the one you see for long distance.

A trade organization estimates right now there are almost 54 million cell phone subscribers in the US.