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Published: Friday, 7/7/2006

Revol wireless targets less-affluent in area

Cellular phone executive Rocky Crossland is content to let competitors chase higher-income customers.

Revol, the newest player in the northwest Ohio wireless market, targets people 34 and under -many between 12 and 17 - living in households with incomes of less than $35,000 a year.

"The growth industry is in lower-income households," said the firm's chief executive, who cites industry statistics showing that only 43 percent of less-affluent families have wireless service, compared with 72 percent of those making more than $35,000.

Revol, which is owned by Cleveland Unlimited Inc., of Independence, Ohio, began offering wireless service in northwest Ohio July 1 after its purchase last November of accounts and equipment here of Leap Wireless International's Cricket brand.

Some Cricket customers complained of poor reception in parts of the territory, however.

Revol - short for Revolution - boasts that it demands no contracts and conducts no credit checks. Customers pay monthly, in advance. A $47 plan includes limitless text-messaging, local calling, and long distance calling from the customer's hometown and from an as-yet limited number of out-of-town locations.

The firm operates offices not only in typical locations such as Westfield Franklin Park in Toledo and the Sandusky Mall in Sandusky but also on Cherry Street near Central Avenue in Toledo's central city.

Mr. Crossland, a former Cricket executive in Knoxville, Tenn., estimates that the Revol network covers 62 percent of a northwest Ohio market with 977,000 potential customers as far south as Bowling Green and Fremont and east to Sandusky.

To grab business, the firm cultivates an edgy image, said Randy Lindsey, marketing manager. Revol stores include graffiti walls.

A marketing squad called the "Revol street team" travels to concerts and other youth-oriented events to promote the product.

Revol officials concede that they have targeted a market with heavy use of pre-paid cellular phone cards, but say they are poised to convert users to traditional service.

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