How many times have you been enjoying your personal space when a cellular phone user tramples over the quiet? Yeah, we don't have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of times we have been snapped into that intrusion. Of course, every part of this "all access" wireless phone usage is a good thing for the companies sending you out there to invade other people's space.

I have been intrigued with the "two-way" product offered by Nextel Communications (NASDAQ:NXTL) for years; after all, what kid doesn't remember those great days playing with walkie-talkies? It just goes to show that all of us so-called "grown-ups" still like to get in touch with our "inner kid" every once in a while. What started for Nextel as a construction site communicator has blossomed into a full-blown phone for white-collar businesses and also consumers.

Nextel reported third-quarter earnings today of $0.39 per share, which was a cent better than the analysts' consensus estimate and 18% better than last year's earnings of $0.33 per share. Revenues also grew 18% as the company added 745,000 new subscribers, which boosted its subscriber base to 15.3 million. The company's average revenue per user (ARPU) held steady at $69, its churn rate (customers lost) was down to 1.5% from 1.7%, and its lifetime revenue per subscriber (ARPU divided by churn) advanced to $4,600 from $4,059 last year.

Looking ahead, the company expects its earnings for the year to be $2.60 per share, up sharply from a previous forecast of $2.00 per share. Nextel also expects to add 2.7 million new subscribers in 2004, up from the previous estimate of 2.4 million (a 13% increase). These upgraded numbers include the impact of an expected 30% bump the company's Boost Mobile unit, which targets the younger generation of cell phone users choosing the "pay as you go" service.

With Nextel reportedly servicing 95% of the Fortune 500 companies and operating in 297 of the top 300 U.S. markets, it has assembled quite an impressive and effective unwired footprint. The other wireless companies, including Sprint (NYSE:FON), AT&T Wireless (NYSE:AWE), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) Wireless, BellSouth (NYSE:BLS) and SBC's (NYSE:SBC) joint venture Cingular Wireless, and Deutsche Telekom's (NYSE:DT) T-Mobile, are all playing catch-up to merely get a taste of that pie.

Despite the fact that the company's shares have appreciated 11% in the past year, there still seems to be some more room to grow. Trading at only 9.8 times the new 2004 earnings forecast of $2.60 per share, Nextel shares appear to be attractive relative to the company's expected low-double-digit growth rate.

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Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and talks mostly to his wife on his cell phone. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.