The contest drew thousands of submissions from Nextel customers sharing experiences of how Nextel's wireless phones and services have made their business lives more productive and less stressful, added quality to personal lives, and have enabled some to come to the rescue of others.
"We're very excited about the enthusiastic responses we received from our customers," said Tom Kelly, executive vice president and chief operating officer of Nextel. "The submissions gave us a better understanding of how Nextel services truly affect the many different facets of one's life, from business to personal."
Nextel awarded prizes to first, second and third place winners in the following five categories: Business Wireless Winner, Wireless Data Winner, Personal Wireless Winner, Worldwide Wireless Winner and Good Samaritan Wireless Winner. First place winners received a $500 American Express Gift Cheque and a $500 credit on their Nextel bill.
Second place winners received a $250 American Express Gift Cheque and a $250 credit on their Nextel bill. Third place winners received a $125 American Express Gift Cheque and a $125 credit on their Nextel bill.
First place winners in each category are as follows: -- Business Wireless Winner: University Telecommunications Manager Mendy Kupfer of Brooklyn, N.Y., was tasked with finding a more efficient, less expensive way for the facilities crew to communicate. He suggested using Nextel Direct Connect(R), the digital long-range walkie-talkie feature. A year later the university is saving 65 percent compared to their last telecommunications choice, and they've improved their effectiveness in handling emergencies.
"Rather than having two hands its like having 60 branched out in strategic locations. Nextel has changed the way we do business, for the better!" said Kupfer.
-- Wireless Data Winner: Eric Brittain, of Cambridge, Mass., used 80 Nextel i550 wireless phones and Wireless Access Protocol in a Massachusetts Institute of Technology undergraduate class to help instructors and students discreetly interact using wireless data messages to gauge how well students understood material in real-time during lectures, and allowed instructors to adapt the material on the spot.
"We were delighted to learn the cell phones operated great. Our next step is to use Java!" said Brittain.
-- Personal Wireless Winner: Mari Robb, of Lawrenceville, Ga., ran through a stop sign, flipped her vehicle, was hanging upside down as her car filled with smoke and her five-year-old daughter was strapped in the back seat. A panicked Robb was able to use Nextel Direct Connect, the long-range digital walkie-talkie feature, to instantly talk to her husband. He calmly talked her and her daughter out of the car and helped guide emergency personnel to the accident scene.
"Seatbelts may have saved our lives, but my Nextel saved our peace of mind. Thank you Nextel!" said Robb.
-- Good Samaritan Wireless Winner: A 16-year-old driver has school bus driver Roshonda Brown, of Sealy, Texas, to thank for alerting emergency services to her frightening accident. The new driver flipped her car four times on a secluded rural road, but Ms. Brown witnessed the accident and used her Nextel phone to call 911 to get emergency services, 411 to contact the girl's parents and Direct Connect(TM) to contact her transportation director to help the four children still on her bus get home safely with their parents.
"My Nextel phone really made a stressful situation a little less stressful. Thank you for providing your customers with so many options," said Brown.
-- Worldwide Wireless Winner: A roadside breakdown is always frustrating, but add to that not knowing the native language. Luckily, when Andrea Fisher, of Washington, D.C., traveled to Bosnia Herzegovina, she had her Nextel Worldwide phone with her, and she was able to call a colleague in her office in Zvornik for Serbian translation assistance, and was also able to reschedule appointments at the push of a button.
"Truly, without Nextel, I would have been totally out of touch and out of luck! What a lifesaver!" said Fisher.
Second and third place winners in the five Wireless Winners categories are:
Business Wireless Winners
Second Place: Nextel business customer, Paul Norman, of Raleigh, N.C., replaced 27 cellular phones with Nextel wireless phones at his catering company and cut costs by using Direct Connect. The company reduced its overhead by enabling staffers to instantly communicate between the bars, buffets and kitchens. During a recent grand opening event for 1,000 guests, Direct Connect eliminated the need for 16 "runner" positions.
"Previously, the event would have been a communications nightmare. We have been using our Nextel phones for over a year now and truly feel that we have a competitive advantage in an industry where efficient communication is essential," said Norman.
Third Place: When your job is to protect the public, instant communication makes all the difference. Firefighter James Allen, of Springfield, Ohio, responded to an interstate accident involving hazardous materials and used his Nextel wireless phone to quickly inform television and radio stations that the interstate was closed so motorists could avoid the hazard and the traffic tie-up. He was also able to coordinate with the fire chief and other government agencies by using Nextel Direct Connect and order food and supplies for more than 50 emergency personnel working at the scene during the 10-hour operation.
"The fact of the matter is that Nextel made communicating during this critical incident so much simpler," said Allen.
Wireless Data Winners
Second Place: When newspaper photographer Jeff Swinger, of Cincinnati, Ohio, rushed to a rural area to capture photos of a helicopter crash site, the only way to get images of the rescue and recovery scene to the newsroom by the deadline was through his Nextel wireless phone linked to a laptop. He was able to upload the digital pictures using Nextel's packet data network directly to the newsroom in time for the morning paper.
"There are days when we wonder if we can actually get the job done without our Nextel phones," said Swinger.
Third Place: Not many people look forward to the arduous job of buying a new car, but when Patricia Thorpe of Baltimore, Md., began the process, she was fully equipped. Using her Nextel i85s wireless phone, combined with Nextel's wireless web services and Java applications, Ms. Thorpe was able to research the cost of her new 2002 Mazda Protege 5 using the automobile industry site, Edmunds.com, and calculate and secure the financing though PeopleFirst online.
"It was so easy. It really pays to be an informed consumer! Thanks Nextel!" said Thorpe.
Personal Wireless Winners
Second Place: Timing and accessibility are everything. Had it not been for Mr. and Mrs. Robert Dorn's ability to communicate instantly, the couple would not be the proud parents of a beautiful 3-year-old adopted daughter. The Ontario, Calif., couple used their Nextel phones to conduct a three-way interview with a county social service worker that enabled them to quickly attend a required adoption training class, that normally had a waiting list of over a year. Within weeks of completing the class, they were able to adopt their daughter.
"She has brought so much joy to our lives. Without our Nextel phones she would have gone to another family. "
Third Place: In 1998, Alicia Wagner, currently residing in San Antonio, Texas, was a newspaper photographer in Orlando, Fla. She was one of the first two photographers in her department to receive a Nextel phone. The other was Billy Calzada. The two often found themselves chatting while working the late shift or traveling home after a long day at work using Direct Connect. During this time, a relationship began to develop and three years later the two were married.
"Nextel is still a bright spot in our day that keeps us connected," said Mrs. Calzada.
Good Samaritan Wireless Winners
Second Place: Samaritan Heather Crossman of Hollywood, Fla., donated her Nextel i85s phone on Sept. 11, 2001, to rescue workers at the Pentagon in Arlington, Va., so they could communicate using Nextel's Direct Connect service, the only service that was working at the time.
"All that really was important was that my Nextel phone could play a small part for such a large cause. God Bless America and Nextel!"
Third Place: While on a family vacation at the beach, Brittany Barth of Wauconda, Ill., heard a big explosion, and saw that a boat, which had passengers aboard, burst into flames. Using her Nextel phone, she immediately called to have emergency personnel put out the fire and rescue the passengers.
"I can't even image what would have happened if I didn't have my Nextel phone with me and couldn't make that call. Thanks Nextel!" said Barth.
Worldwide Wireless Winners
Second Place: When Paula Fan of Tucson, Ariz., traveled to a tiny island 30 kilometers off the coast of Queensland, Australia, to help scientists track koalas, she did so with a guilty conscience. She was missing a family wedding as well as a scholarship awards ceremony for 20 of her students back in the U.S. To her delight, she discovered that her Nextel Worldwide phone worked on the deserted island. With her Nextel phone she listened to a play-by-play account of both the family wedding and the awards ceremony that she would have otherwise missed.
"Thanks to Nextel, I could have it all: scholarship awards, wedding toasts and koalas too," said Fan. "Nextel made it the best of both possible worlds."
Third Place: Though half a world away on business, Paul Mayo of Port St. Lucie, Fla., was able to orchestrate all the complicated logistics of selling one home in Maryland while he was in Austria, and resolved changes and questions about his new custom dream home being built in Florida while he was in Singapore - all with ease from his Nextel Worldwide phone.
"Since my business field is time critical communications, I appreciate Nextel's quality of service and its partners worldwide," said Mayo.