The cell phone market in the Tri-Cities, like the rest of the nation, is poised to grow, industry officials say.
More and more people are giving up their landline phones in favor of the convenience of being connected on the go, said Todd Heiner, CEO of Express Locations, which recently opened a new T-Mobile wireless store in Columbia Center mall in Kennewick.
His company took over T-Mobile's outdoor kiosk, across from Applebee's on Kennewick's Columbia Center Boulevard, in May. A rush of customers led the company to expand at the mall and hire additional staff, he said.
The Tri-Cities wireless market is underserved, said Heiner, who recently was in the Tri-Cities scouting for a store location in Pasco. He's also looking to expand in Yakima, he said.
This year, many mobile phone service providers also improved their coverage in the Tri-Cities by adding new cell sites at various locations.
The new generation of consumers, particularly users of social media sites, are constantly on the lookout for better smart phones, boosting demand for new products and services, he said. Metro areas like the Tri-Cities offer new growth opportunities, Heiner said.
His company owns and operates 65 T-Mobile stores in Washington, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Utah.
Cell phones are no longer a luxury, Heiner said. Whether you are looking to get the hottest job tip or let others know of your last-minute plan changes, mobile phones are what people frequently use these days, he said.
Recently, U.S. Cellular set up a cell site in West Pasco to help improve call quality for its customers. And a few months ago, Verizon Wireless put up new cell sites at Hanford because of increased demand for wireless service in the area, giving a boost to its 3G coverage.
-- Pratik Joshi: 582-1541; pjoshi @tricityherald.com; Business Beat blog at www.tricityherald. com