Verizon Wireless Expands Digital Service in South Punta Gorda, Florida

TAMPA, FL — In an effort to provide the best wireless service for local residents and the millions who visit southwest Florida beaches each year, Verizon Wireless has expanded its digital network by constructing a new site in South Punta Gorda. The site is located near Interstate 75 and U.S. 41, providing high-speed wireless coverage and capacity there as well as for residents and businesses throughout the South Punta Gorda Heights area.

The enhanced cell site is part of the nation's largest wireless provider's aggressive multi-million dollar network investment each year in Florida, designed to stay ahead of the growing demand here for wireless voice and data services like picture messaging and Internet access. In 2003, Verizon Wireless invested more than $180 million in Florida to further expand and enhance its all-digital network — bringing the company's network investment in the state to nearly $600 million over the past three years.

This investment makes it possible to offer customers the most reliable service available on the nation's largest wireless network. The company's most reliable network claim is based on network studies performed by real-life test men and test women who inspired the company's national "Can you hear me now?" advertising campaign. They conduct more than 300,000 calls monthly on Verizon Wireless' and other national wireless carriers' networks while traveling over 100,000 miles across Florida — including Charlotte County and the southwest Florida coast -- in specially-equipped, company-owned quality test vehicles.

"The Punta Gorda network enhancements and expansions allow us to meet the growing need of local businesses and consumers for their voice calls and data applications, like our high-speed National Access and two-way picture messaging service," said Mike Lanman, Florida region president of Verizon Wireless.

"And with wireless users now able to take their numbers when they switch carriers, a strong network has proven to be crucial to attracting and retaining customers," added Lanman.

National Access is one of the company's nationwide high-speed wireless data networks, providing fast wireless Internet service with bursts up to 144 kilobits per second (kbps). National Access gives users full Internet access, intranet access and traditional email functionality via a laptop at unprecedented speeds for wireless access. Users can expect average speeds between 40 and 60 kbps, significantly higher than speeds being produced by competing technologies and comparable to, if not faster, than what PC users get when using a dial-up Internet service.

The newest high-speed data service from Verizon Wireless is Broadband Access, which provides average transfer speeds of 300-500 kbps. Verizon Wireless will roll out Broadband Access throughout Florida in 2004.

Over the last three years, Verizon Wireless has invested about a billion dollars every 90 days -- more than $12 billion -- in its nationwide network, offering customers access to the most extensive wireless voice and data network in the United States.

Test Man Ride-Along ProgramThe specially equipped Verizon Wireless test vehicles simultaneously test seven wireless providers, using a computerized program to generate phonically diverse "conversations." If you are interested in setting up an interview or ride-along with a local member of the Verizon Wireless team of real-life test men and women, contact Chuck Hamby at 813-615-4803 or via email at .

About Verizon WirelessVerizon Wireless is the nation's leading provider of wireless communications. The company has the largest nationwide wireless voice and data network and 37.5 million customers. Headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Find more information on the Web at To receive broadcast-quality video footage of Verizon Wireless operations, log onto