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Nextel targets Spanish speakers

The carrier plans an upcoming advertising blitz targeting Hispanic-American consumers, plus more sponsorships of popular events such as soccer tournaments.

Nextel Communications is beginning a campaign to attract more Spanish-speaking customers in the United States.

The carrier on Monday said its upcoming advertising blitz, which targets Hispanic consumers who live in the United States, will include more sponsorships of popular events such as soccer tournaments.

Nextel will begin the ad campaign in San Diego, San Antonio and Chicago, three of the biggest U.S. Hispanic markets, the company said. A Nextel representative did not divulge how much the carrier intends to spend on the marketing effort.

Nextel and Verizon Wireless are the only major U.S. cell phone companies to begin aggressively marketing to Hispanic-American consumers, who make up 14 percent of the U.S. population. The carriers are trying to take advantage of the U.S. Spanish-speaking community's rising spending clout.

IDC analyst Keith Waryas expects such marketing efforts to be launched by more U.S. carriers, even though it's "a narrower niche than what cell phone companies are used to targeting."

Hispanics make up about 4.5 percent of U.S. cell phone users, according to a January online survey by market analyst IDC. But they have higher cell phone bills than any other minority group, according to a study cited by Nextel.