MOBILE WARFARE

PRICES PLUNGE IN THE CELL-PHONE FIGHT. BUT WHO KNOWS WHAT TO BUY?

The cell-phone industry needs an answering machine--not one that takes messages but one that gives answers. That would help Linda Vestal. Her head is buzzing as she browses among the wireless-telephone come-ons in a suburban Denver store. There, in bewildering profusion, gadgets and service plans from Sprint, Western Wireless and Motorola cry out for her attention. "There are so many phones and so many things that they do," sighs Vestal, a Denver park-district worker, who left the store with a fistful of brochures, but no phone, to ponder her choices at home.

If Vestal's options seem perplexing, it's because recent deregulation...

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