Notes to Consolidated Financial Statements
NOTE 1 (1 of 3)
DESCRIPTION OF BUSINESS AND SUMMARY OF SIGNIFICANT ACCOUNTING POLICIES
Description of Business
Verizon Communications Inc. (Verizon or the Company) is one of the world’s leading providers of communications services. We have two reportable segments, Wireline and Domestic Wireless, which we operate and manage as strategic business units and organize by products and services. For further information concerning our business segments, see Note 17. Our Wireline segment provides communications services, including voice, broadband video and data, network access, nationwide long-distance and other communications products and services, and also owns and operates one of the most expansive end-to-end global Internet Protocol (IP) networks. We continue to deploy advanced broadband network technology, with our fiber-to-the-premises network (FiOS) creating a platform with sufficient bandwidth and capabilities to meet customers’ current and future needs. FiOS allows us to offer our customers a wide array of broadband services, including advanced data and video offerings. Our IP network includes over 485,000 route miles of fiber optic cable and provides access to over 150 countries across six continents, enabling us to provide next-generation IP network products and Information Technology (IT) services to medium and large businesses and government customers worldwide.
Verizon’s Domestic Wireless segment, operating as Verizon Wireless, provides wireless voice and data products and other value-added services and equipment across the United States using one of the most extensive and reliable wireless networks. Verizon Wireless continues to expand our wireless data, messaging and multi-media offerings at broadband speeds for both consumer and business customers.
The method of accounting applied to investments, whether consolidated, equity or cost, involves an evaluation of all significant terms of the investments that explicitly grant or suggest evidence of control or influence over the operations of the investee. The consolidated financial statements include our controlled subsidiaries. Investments in businesses which we do not control, but have the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies, are accounted for using the equity method. Investments in which we do not have the ability to exercise significant influence over operating and financial policies are accounted for under the cost method. Equity and cost method investments are included in Investments in Unconsolidated Businesses in our consolidated balance sheets. Certain of our cost method investments are classified as available-for-sale securities and adjusted to fair value pursuant to the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) Statement of Financial Accounting Standards (SFAS) No. 115, Accounting for Certain Investments in Debt and Equity Securities (SFAS No. 115).
All significant intercompany accounts and transactions have been eliminated.
We have reclassified prior year amounts to conform to the current year presentation.
Discontinued Operations, Assets Held for Sale, and Sales of Businesses and Investments
We classify as discontinued operations for all periods presented any component of our business that we hold for sale or disposal that has operations and cash flows that are clearly distinguishable operationally and for financial reporting purposes from the rest of Verizon. For those components, Verizon has no significant continuing involvement after disposal and their operations and cash flows are eliminated from Verizon’s ongoing operations. Sales of significant components of our business not classified as discontinued operations are reported as either Sales of Businesses, Net, Equity in Earnings of Unconsolidated Businesses or Other Income and (Expense), Net in our consolidated statements of income.
Use of Estimates
We prepare our financial statements using U.S. generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which require management to make estimates and assumptions that affect reported amounts and disclosures. Actual results could differ from those estimates.
Examples of significant estimates include unrealized tax benefits, the allowance for doubtful accounts, the recoverability of plant, property and equipment, the recoverability of intangible assets and other long-lived assets, valuation allowances on tax assets and pension and postretirement benefit assumptions.
Our Wireline segment earns revenue based upon usage of our network and facilities and contract fees. In general, fixed monthly fees for voice, video, data and certain other services are billed one month in advance and recognized the following month when earned. Revenue from services that are not fixed in amount and are based on usage are recognized when such services are provided.
We recognize equipment revenue for services, in which we bundle the equipment with maintenance and monitoring services, when the equipment is installed in accordance with contractual specifications and ready for the customer’s use. The maintenance and monitoring services are recognized monthly over the term of the contract as we provide the services. Long-term contracts are accounted for using the percentage of completion method. We use the completed contract method if we cannot estimate the costs with a reasonable degree of reliability.
Customer activation fees, along with the related costs up to but not exceeding the activation fees, are deferred and amortized over the customer relationship period.
Our Domestic Wireless segment earns revenue by providing access to and usage of our network, which includes roaming revenue. In general, access revenue is billed one month in advance and recognized when earned. Access revenue, usage revenue and roaming revenue are recognized when service is rendered. Equipment sales revenue associated with the sale of wireless handsets and accessories is recognized when the products are delivered to and accepted by the customer, as this is considered to be a separate earnings process from the sale of wireless services. Customer activation fees are considered additional consideration when handsets are sold to customers at a discount and are recorded as equipment sales revenue at the time of customer acceptance.