NEW YORK — On its first day of business, Verizon Wireless today introduced new nationwide flat-rate pricing options for consumers and businesses who want competitive, predictable coast-to-coast pricing with no roaming or long distance charges. These new SingleRateSM plans give customers one of the industry's lowest entry points for flat-rate digital wireless service that works virtually anywhere on the country's premier wireless network.
Verizon Wireless is the new wireless leader formed by the combination of Bell Atlantic Corp.'s (NYSE: BEL) and Vodafone AirTouch Plc's (LSE:VOD; NYSE: VOD) U.S. wireless properties * including PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging assets * completely changing the national wireless competitive landscape.
Verizon Wireless products and services will be available in GTE Corp's (NYSE:GTE) cellular and PCS markets that will become part of the new company following the close of the Bell Atlantic - GTE merger, which is targeted for the second quarter.
"Customers of Verizon Wireless can expect innovative, competitively-priced voice and data products and services of the highest quality, and best-in-class customer service," said Denny Strigl, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless. "Today's introduction of new SingleRate products is only the beginning of what we will provide to our customers."
Introducing SingleRateThe new family of five flat-rate, simplified price plans provides one of the best values in the industry for a national wireless flat-rate plan * $35 per month for 150 minutes. SingleRate eliminates long distance and roaming charges across the country, effectively making every wireless call a local call.
Customers who choose these national all-inclusive options can select large bundles of minutes based on their usage requirements * up to 1,500 minutes for $150 monthly access. A big advantage for Verizon Wireless customers is that the size and scope of the company's coast-to-coast network allows convenient digital features like caller ID and message waiting indicator to be available whenever customers are on the Verizon Wireless digital network as they travel across the country.
SingleRate is conveniently available at 1,100 company-owned retail stores and kiosks, and at more than 10,000 retailers and authorized agents across the country.
"We designed SingleRate to be the best, all-inclusive national pricing plan available today," said Lowell McAdam, chief operating officer for Verizon Wireless. "Its introduction provides customers who demand local calling across a national footprint with the best choice in wireless."
New Audiovox Digital Phone Makes Debut; Company to Buy One Million HandsetsCustomers choosing the new SingleRate plans will enjoy the features and functionality of the new Web-capable Audiovox CDM-9000 tri-mode digital phone, which is available exclusively for Verizon Wireless SingleRate customers. The company has committed to an initial purchase of one million of these handsets from Audiovox, due to the expected customer demand for the service.
The Audiovox CDM-9000 weighs just 4.8 ounces, and features a Web browser with two soft-touch navigational keys for easy access to the Internet, vibrating alert and alarm clock, voice-activated dialing, data capabilities, enhanced phone book and memory, caller ID with name, short message service, voice mail notification and a choice of 15 audible rings including 11 distinct melodies.
Also available to new SingleRate customers is the popular, Web-enabled Motorola StarTACTM 7868 tri-mode digital phone. These two phones are the exclusive handsets available for the new SingleRate plans.
As an incentive to buy the new tri-mode (analog and CDMA digital, 800 mhz/digital 1900 mhz) phones, new Verizon Wireless and existing customers will receive a $30 mail-in rebate off the phone's retail price of $199.99 for the Audiovox 9000, and the tri-mode StarTAC's $249.99 price. Current Bell Atlantic Mobile, Vodafone AirTouch and PrimeCo customers will also receive an additional $30 instant credit through company-owned locations when they upgrade to the new SingleRate plans.
New Services On the WayVerizon Wireless will be rolling out a number of major products and services over the next several months, focused on providing customers with value and simplicity while building awareness for the new name and brand. For example, the company is planning to introduce the nation's first coast-to-coast two-way short messaging service (SMS) during the third quarter. The service will allow Verizon Wireless' digital customers to send and receive instant text messages to each other on their phones, similar to the popular SMS wireless feature in Europe and Asia. Customers will be able to send interactive messages to friends, family members, business associates and clients from their phones to PCs, from PCs to their phones, and to/from two-way enabled wireless phones.
Internet Everywhere Through New Portal StrategyThe wireless data market is expected to grow from $1.8 billion last year to $13.2 billion by 2003, with up to 25 million wireless data users expected nationwide by 2002, according to the Yankee Group.
As the strong customer demand for wireless Internet access and services continues to grow, Verizon Wireless expects to build on the already strong wireless Internet offerings available from the individual companies that are combining into the new company by giving customers the benefit of wireless multimedia data services.
To satisfy this customer demand for wireless data, Verizon Wireless plans to introduce a complete range of customized services * messaging, enhanced voice services, desktop applications, information services and e-commerce via audio, text, and graphics * through a broad selection of Web-enabled wireless phones and handheld devices.
"The goal is to use the wireless phone as the centerpiece of information and services for our customers anytime, anywhere," said McAdam, "and to allow customers to set up and receive personalized, integrated content when they want it."
Key elements of the Verizon Wireless data strategy include:
- To launch an "Internet Everywhere" Internet access platform and portal during the third quarter. The portal would be branded exclusively as Verizon Wireless and would run on the same platform with the global Vodafone AirTouch portal, also currently being developed. Today, the company announced InfoSpace has been chosen to design the portal and provide the platform. The portal will be the gateway to Web-based information, financial services, e-commerce and e-care. Verizon Wireless also announced plans to offer content from the following providers:
- E*Trade, to provide customers with wireless stock quotes and trading
- Strategy.com™, a wholly-owned subsidiary of MicroStrategy® (NASDAQ: MSTR), to provide personalized finance, weather and news alerts, using multiple message delivery options -- wireless phone, email, pager and landline phone
- E*Trade, to provide customers with wireless stock quotes and trading
- To actively establish agreements with other world-class companies and strategic content partners to bring more Internet-based information and functionality to the handset by making it an e-commerce tool
- To provide the highest quality applications and services, with both global and location-specific content
- To provide global access to information to the largest wireless customer base in the nation
- To offer a superior wireless data transmission system over CDMA
In separate news releases today, Verizon Wireless also announced the following:
- A new marketing and branding effort in support of the Verizon Wireless launch;
- A planned investment of $3 billion on Verizon Wireless' new nationwide wireless network in 2000, the largest to date of any wireless carrier;
- New appointments to Verizon Wireless leadership and an overview of the senior management team.
The press releases can be found on Verizon Wireless' web site (http://www.verizonwireless/mediacenter). All were issued over PR Newswire this morning.
About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with over 16 million wireless voice and data customers and nearly 4 million paging customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. (NYSE:BEL) and Vodafone AirTouch Plc (LSE:VOD; NYSE:VOD). The new company includes the assets from Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging.
Verizon Wireless will be further strengthened by the addition of the U.S. wireless assets of GTE Corp. (NYSE:GTE) when it completes its merger with Bell Atlantic. When the merger is complete, the new company will have a footprint covering nearly 90% of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets.
Verizon Wireless, headquartered in New York City and Bedminster, NJ, is 30,000 employees strong.####