|Headquarters||Basking Ridge, New Jersey, USA|
|Key people||Lowell McAdam, CEO
Mike Lanman, CMO
|Products||CDMA2000 1x and EV-DO / SMS (text messaging), MMS (picture messaging), Video on Demand (V CAST), Mobile TV (V CAST Mobile TV), location-based services, BREW (Get It Now), Push to Talk, AMPS, Global Phone Rental/Sales (via Vodafone) (GSM/CDMA dual-mode phones), Satellite Phone Rental/Sales (via Vodafone/Iridium)|
|Revenue||$49.332 billion USD (2008)|
|Parent||Verizon Communications (55%)
Vodafone Group (45%)
Verizon Wireless is the trade name of Cellco Partnership, which owns and operates the largest mobile telecommunications network in the United States, based on a total of 91.2 million U.S. subscribers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, the company is a joint venture of U.S. telecommunications firm Verizon Communications and London-based multinational mobile network operator Vodafone Group, with 55 and 45 percent ownership respectively. Verizon Wireless had the second largest revenue of all United States wireless companies reporting $49.332 billion in 2008.
On January 9, 2009, Verizon Wireless acquired Alltel Wireless in a deal valued at $28.1 billion. The acquisition expanded Verizon's wireless network to establish Verizon as the largest United States wireless carrier, based on number of subscribers.
Verizon Wireless traces its roots to Bell Atlantic Mobile, NYNEX Mobile Communications, AirTouch Communications, PrimeCo Communications, and GTE Mobilnet. Bell Atlantic Mobile and NYNEX Mobile Communications merged in 1995 to create Bell Atlantic - NYNEX Mobile, and in 1997 their namesake Baby Bell parents followed suit to form the new Bell Atlantic and their wireless subsidiary was renamed Bell Atlantic Mobile. Bell Atlantic Mobile and NYNEX Mobile Communications was created from Advanced Mobile Phone Service, Inc., which was a subsidiary of AT&T created in 1978 to provide cellular service nationwide. AMPS, Inc. was divided among the RBOCs as part of the Bell System Divestiture.
Meanwhile, in June 1999, AirTouch Communications of San Francisco, California merged with UK-based Vodafone Group Plc, forming Vodafone AirTouch Plc. In September 1999, Vodafone AirTouch announced a $90-billion joint venture with Bell Atlantic Corp. to be called Verizon Wireless, and which would comprise the two companies' U.S. wireless assets: Bell Atlantic Mobile and AirTouch Paging. This wireless joint venture received regulatory approval in six months, and began operations as Verizon Wireless on April 4, 2000. On June 30, 2000, the addition of GTE Wireless' assets, in connection with the merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE to form Verizon Communications, made Verizon Wireless the nation's largest wireless communications provider. Verizon held that position until Cingular's acquisition of AT&T Wireless in 2004, and again after their acquisition of Alltel in 2009. For the joint venture, Verizon Communications owns 55% and UK-based Vodafone Group (formerly Vodafone AirTouch) owns 45%. The name "Verizon," a portmanteau, is derived by combining the word "veritas," a Latin term that means "truth," and the word "horizon." Together, they are supposed to conjure images of reliability, certainty, leadership, and limitless possibilities.
Verizon Wireless is one of the two major U.S. carriers to use CDMA technology, the other being Sprint Nextel. Alltel also used CDMA before becoming part of Verizon Wireless. Other regional carriers that use CDMA are: U.S. Cellular, Cricket, and MetroPCS (see List of United States mobile phone companies for more information). Verizon supports the 3 generations of CDMA (IS-95, 1x, and EV-DO) networks.
Verizon Wireless invests $8 billion annually to maintain and expand its nationwide CDMA network. Verizon Wireless offers voice services as well as 3G data services such as wireless broadband based on EV-DO Rev A, text and picture messaging, over-the-air downloadable applications and content from its "Get It Now" service, Video on Demand in the form of V CAST (which allows customers to download and view video content), location-based services, and Push-to-Talk.
On June 30, 2007, Verizon Wireless had completed the overhaul of the entire EV-DO network to EV-DO Rev. A. This enables PC Cards and certain phones to obtain theoretical peak download speeds of 3.1 Mbit/s and upload speeds of up to 1.8 Mbit/s. The actual download and upload speeds vary due to a number of factors, and users will typically see speeds close to 1 Mbit/s down, and 500 Kbit/s up.
On 27 November 2007, Verizon Wireless announced plans to allow all cell phones compatible with their CDMA technology to run on their network. Users of such phones are also allowed to use any application they wish.
However, on September 20, 2007, Verizon Wireless had announced a joint effort with the Vodafone Group to transition their networks to the 4G standard LTE and on November 29, 2007, Verizon Wireless announced that they would start LTE trials in 2008. On December 9, 2008, Verizon announced that they intend to build and begin to roll out, a LTE network, by the end of 2009. Adopting LTE would make for a gradual shift away from Verizon Wireless’ current use of CDMA technology because it is a completely different platform, but would offer increased operability for users traveling worldwide.
Verizon claims to operate "America's Largest and Most Reliable Wireless Network," covering approximately 290 million people.
During a Long Term Evolution developers conference held on May 13, 2009, CEO Lowell McAdam clarified the schedule Verizon Wireless has envisioned for rolling out its fourth-generation LTE network running at 700 MHz. McAdam said the network will launch in 20 to 30 markets during the second half of 2010. It is still on track to launch two trial networks, one each on the east and west coasts of the United States, by the end of 2009 and the company will reveal exactly which markets those are closer to launch. McAdam also revealed that devices that can access its LTE network will have swappable SIM cards, similar to those found in today's GSM-capable handsets (or Japanese CDMA handsets). However, the SIM cards will only be swappable with other Verizon Wireless LTE-certified hardware. McAdam said Verizon Wireless believes its LTE network will be capable of speeds ranging between 8Mbps to 12Mbps, although its upper limits have been testing between 50mbps to 100mbps.
In 2000, Verizon Wireless advertised they were, for a time, the largest cellular network in the country by showing people using cell phones and then gesturing with two fingers, much like the World War II-era "V for Victory" sign, to show that the person was on the Verizon ("V" or "iN") network. The slogan for Verizon Wireless at that time was "Join in." (Reminiscent of the slogan "Join in" was used in their marketing scheme up to this day. i.e., "iN-calling," "iN-messaging," and even the toll-free number "1-800-2-JOIN-IN.")
Later, Verizon adopted the slogan "We never stop working for you," with commercials depicting a Verizon employee roaming about in strange places continuously asking, "Can you hear me now? Good." (The "employee" is played by stage actor Paul Marcarelli) The "test man" represents Verizon test technicians.
In 2005, Verizon Wireless added an "army" of network engineers into their commercials in conjunction with the "test man" and introduced the slogan "It's the Network." to emphasize their network quality. (Verizon Wireless still uses the slogan "We never stop working for you." from time to time — especially on their website, toll-free number, and shopping bags.)
In 2008, Verizon Wireless sponsored Korean pop sensation Se7en further helping Se7en trademark his name in America and promote his U.S. debut single that was released in spring 2009.
Also in 2008, Verizon Wireless began a new television advertising campaign, with parodies of horror movies (including The Shining), with people trying to scare a main character with tales of a Dead Zone where calls cannot be made, who calmly responds that he or she has Verizon, and then the slogan appears, "Don't be afraid of Dead Zones."
In early 2009, Verizon Wireless officially dropped the "IN" campaign. Previously, calls between two Verizon Wireless subscribers were referred to as IN calling, but will now be referred to as Mobile-to-Mobile calling. With this change, Verizon Wireless also renamed their prepaid service Verizon Wireless Prepaid from iNPulse to Prepay.
In mid-2009, when the markets Verizon acquired from Alltel began to transition to the Verizon Wireless brand, web ads began to appear showing the test man with Chad, the Alltel salesman character that has appeared on Alltel commercials for the past five years.
Late in 2009, Verizon began ads that made use of the iPhone "There's an app for that" slogan, changing it to "There's a map for that" (see below). They began with maps showing large areas of the United States covered in red to represent Verizon's 3G service, with very limited areas in blue to show 3G service for AT&T, which was required to use the full capabilities of the iPhone. The ads progressively got more aggressive, including one where the iPhone was placed on the Island of Misfit Toys.
In November 2009, Verizon Wireless officially released the Motorola Droid. Analysts estimate Verizon sold between 100,000 and 200,000 Droids in its opening weekend; the wireless carrier should sell a total of 765,000 Droids by year-end, according to Avian Securities' forecast. At this pace, Droid, which was released in early November, would slightly trail the performance of the first Blackberry Storm, which sold a million units by the end of January after going on sale just before Thanksgiving last year.
Get It Now is Verizon Wireless' implementation of Qualcomm's BREW technology, allowing a user to download and use applications on a Verizon Wireless Get It Now-enabled phone. It is a proprietary interface to download ringtones, music, games, applications, and use instant messaging on a phone. Users usually are unable to load content on the Verizon Wireless phones outside of Get It Now system; this is done for financial reasons. Verizon Wireless has exclusivity agreements with its Get It Now content providers (this is a walled garden system). Sometimes cell phone enthusiasts perform unsupported modifications to their phones or use 3rd-party software to make the phone accept non- Get It Now -originated content, or use free services that send ringtones through picture messaging, like Mobile17. In 2008 Verizon Wireless announced that their "Get It Now" service will be renamed "Media Center" on all their future phones beginning with the LG EnV2.
All applications through Get It Now/Media Center are BREW-based and the selection differs depending on what Verizon phone one is using.
Many first-time mobile phone users freely access the internet through internet-capable phones ("Mobile Web"), only to find that a sizable charge has been added to ther phone bill at month's end. Verizon currently charges $1.99 USD per megabyte (in 2009) downloaded into the phone from the internet. This is called "Megabyte Usage" or "Data Usage". Whenever anyone accesses the internet, the charge is incurred, because in order to access the web, web pages must be downloaded into the phone for viewing. New customers are often confused on what activities incur a charge and which activities do not. Visiting 50 web pages is a download of .3 MB. A visit to Media Center/Get It Now page incurs a charge, even if nothing is bought/downloaded. Music, games or ringtones downloads incurs the MB charge, but Picture/Video messaging (MMS) does not charge. Whenever data is being downloaded into the phone, a little phone icon with arrows going back and forth appears. Blocks can be set by account owner to block specific types of downloads. If a specific type of unlimited download is included in the customer's plan, then the customer is charged a flat fee per month instead of per MB.
Within Get It Now, Verizon has implemented a GPS navigation application, VZ Navigator, that works for the most part like a standalone GPS unit. Users can also locate businesses within their vicinity, searching by category or business name. Users can type in addresses and receive turn by turn directions to their destination.
Also within Get It Now/Media Center is V CAST, Verizon Wireless' high-speed audio, video on demand, and entertainment delivery system.
Verizon Wireless uses Qualcomm's MediaFLO technology to broadcast live TV to certain phones, such as the LG Voyager. A VCAST mobile TV subscription is required.
A subscription based service which allows access for $14.99 per month for unlimited song downloads to a person's computer using the VCAST with Rhapsody software. This program also allow the user to sync the music with up to three different media devices examples (mobile phones and mp3 players). The user has to authorize these devices through the VCast with Rhapsody software in order to sync the music. However if the consumer wants to move the music from a digital medium to a physical medium example (compact disc) the consumer will need to pay $.99 per song in order to move it to that physical medium.
Backup Assistant is a white label product that backs up the mobile address books of Verizon Wireless subscribers. The contacts are stored on My Verizon and can be edited and migrated to a new device if needed. The monthly subscription for Backup Assistant is $1.99, but is waived for subscribers who register for online account management via My Verizon. The technology for Backup Assistant is provided by FusionOne, Inc. Recently, Feb 2010 backup assistant became free to all VZW subscribers.
On February 16, 2009, Verizon Wireless launched its new service, called Friends & Family, in light of their recent acquisition of Alltel Wireless, which had a similar service called My Circle. With an eligible plan, customers will have unlimited calling to a select group of numbers outside their standard mobile-to-mobile calling group, including landlines. This will give single line accounts up to 5 numbers to choose from on plans with 900 or more minutes, and family plan accounts up to 10 numbers to choose from on plans with 1,400 or more minutes.
Verizon Wireless collects no-longer-used wireless phones, batteries, and accessories in any condition from any wireless service provider. Phones that can be refurbished are sold for reuse and those without value are disposed of in an environmentally sound way by way of ReCellular Inc. Proceeds from HopeLine are used to provide wireless phones and cash grants to local shelters and non-profit organizations that focus on domestic violence prevention and awareness.
Since HopeLine's national phone recycling and re-use program was launched in 2001, Verizon Wireless:
Hopeline's #HOPE is a service available across Verizon Wireless' nationwide wireless network. By dialing #4673 then pressing send, callers will be connected directly to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, where they can receive the confidential help they need through empowerment-based crisis intervention, information and resources. The call is toll and airtime free.
Verizon Wireless currently offers the "Nationwide Plan with OnStar," which is a bundle plan between Verizon Wireless service and OnStar service. With this plan, the Verizon Wireless phone is the "primary line" and the OnStar device is the "secondary line." This plan is actually based around the "Family SharePlan," with rates starting at $69.99 USD for 700 minutes.
Effective July 13, 2009, OnStar and Verizon Wireless stopped accepting any new customers on this program. This decision does not affect those OnStar customers who already are enrolled in the Verizon Wireless shared minute program. While the shared minute program is being discontinued, OnStar customers can still use OnStar’s voice-activated Hands-Free Calling by purchasing minutes from OnStar. 
Main article: Claro Puerto Rico
The Claro brand ("claro" being Spanish for "clear") was launched in Puerto Rico on May 18, 2007 as rebranding the Verizon Wireless trademark, after Verizon International sold its stake in Puerto Rico Telephone Co. (PRTC). Claro is the wireless arm of PRTC, which serves wireline telephone and data services in the island. The brand was introduced to the wireless segment after 30 March 2007 acquisition of the telecom by América Móvil.
The company has made public its plans to launch a GSM/UMTS network parallel to the CDMA/EvDO network it operates since 2002. Claro has mobile voice and data services in Puerto Rico's 78 cities and towns and its coverage is constantly expanding, the company says.
Verizon Wireless still offers voice coverage in Puerto Rico by roaming on the Claro network. On America's Choice II and Nationwide calling plans, usage on this network is included at no cost (considered Extended Network) but on any other plan it costs $.69 per min.
Starting May 1, 2009, due to an agreement with the CDMA company "Iusacell", Verizon Wireless offers the Nationwide + Mexico calling plans. These plans allows users to call Mexico as part of their regular minutes. Users who travel can also roam into Mexico at no additional charge.
Some of Verizon Wireless' primary competitors include:
Verizon no longer restricts or disables GPS Chips in their phones. However, in previous years, Verizon had a history of restricting GPS functionality on many of the devices that they sell. On November 30, 2007 Verizon Wireless was named in a class action lawsuit alleging that the company deceived customers by advertising that the devices were "GPS Enabled." Upon purchase, the suit alleges that Verizon intentionally disabled the devices' free, built-in global positioning systems (GPS) then offered a proprietary Verizon fee-for-service GPS.
Since this dispute, all smartphones sold on the Verizon network have their GPS receivers unlocked by default. Select older devices can be unlocked with a firmware upgrade. Phone hackers were able to restore GPS access to some older models which did not receive firmware updates.
Today, Verizon no longer restricts any bluetooth settings or capabilities. However, at one point Verizon did lock out some bluetooth options. Verizon advertised the Motorola V710 as having full Bluetooth capability, when in reality it had no OBEX or OPP functions built in. After many complaints, a class action suit was filed for false advertising, not only for advertising missing capabilities, but also for telling customers who complained to Verizon that an update was coming out "in November." The lawsuit was initiated in January 2005 and settlement decision became final on March 20, 2006, with Verizon offering to qualified members of the class action suit (purchased a V710 BEFORE February 2, 2005) a $25 credit to all of its V710 customers, or the option to trade in the V710 for $200 or original purchase price and allow them to keep their phone number and service, or $200 or original purchase price and allow them to break their contract and discontinue service with Verizon. The settlement to the lawsuit did not directly address the V710's restrictions. The same hardware crippling exists with Motorola's successor to the V710, the E815, but unlike the V710, the E815 was marked clearly that OBEX and OPP was disabled. Additionally, through a seem edit, OBEX could be enabled on the 815, but not on the 710 (the Verizon e815 lacks the OPP profile altogether).
OBEX and OPP was disabled on the majority of Verizon's handsets. This prevents phone to phone transfers through bluetooth. The reasoning given by Verizon is to prevent lawsuits involving the bluetoothing of licensed or copyrighted materials.
In previous years, Verizon Wireless had removed the ability to use MP3s as ringtones for some phones. This included blocking the feature in firmware updates for the Motorola V710 and several other newer phones for ringtone transfers, making it more difficult - but not impossible - to transfer MP3s from the phone's microSD card at that time. This update also disabled editing of the homepage field in WebSessions making it more difficult to use alternate WAP gateways. One result of this crippling has been a prominent network of "unofficial" web sites, documenting how to enable, access, or use hidden or crippled features.
Today, nearly all Verizon Wireless phones can save an MP3 as a ringtone, simply by Picture messaging or e-mailing the file as an attachment.
Verizon Wireless had come under fire by "power users" of its EV-DO wireless data network (called BroadbandAccess), for using language in its terms of service which heavily restricts what activities an EV-DO user can conduct even though the service is advertised as offering "Unlimited" data usage. The service was in fact limited to 5GB of data transfer per month. The language in Verizon Wireless' previous usage agreement stated:
Unlimited NationalAccess/BroadbandAccess services cannot be used (1) for uploading, downloading or streaming of movies, music or games, (2) with server devices or with host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, Voice over IP (VoIP), automated machine-to-machine connections, or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing, or (3) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections... We reserve right to limit throughput or amount of data transferred, deny or terminate service, without notice, to anyone we believe is using NationalAccess or BroadbandAccess in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts our network or service levels.
Under these terms, customers will have to pay five cents per additional Megabyte (MB) using more than 5 GBs per month.
In 2004, Verizon aired an advertisement depicting a computer-illiterate father being reproved by his precocious daughter and scolding wife. The advertisement drew criticism from radio commentator Glenn Sacks and advocacy group Dads and Daughters, which said, "It's reflective of some deeply entrenched cultural attitudes -- that fathers are second-class parents. . . . To operate from the assumption that dad is a dolt is harmful to fathers, harmful to children, and harmful to mothers." The ad was subsequently removed from airing.
On June 2, 2007, Kelsey Smith, a teenager from Overland Park, Kansas, was abducted in a Target parking lot behind the Oak Park Mall. She was murdered later that night, and immediately after an abandoned car was found, a search began for her. Local law enforcement involved in the investigation contacted Verizon Wireless, the family's cell phone provider at the time of the murder, for records to pinpoint a search location for her. Despite efforts made by the local investigators and eventually the FBI, it took Verizon three days to hand over cell phone records to law enforcement. A Verizon technician pinpointed a cell phone tower and told investigators to search 1.1 miles north of the tower. Within 45 minutes, the body of Kelsey Smith was found. There is much controversy on why it took Verizon so long to cooperate with law enforcement.
In late 2009, Verizon started an ad campaign "There's A Map For That," to parody the iPhone's "There is an app for that" and the AT&T network coverage. Since iPhones used AT&T, and maps used in the commercials claimed Verizon had five times the 3G coverage of AT&T, iPhones were not as useful as they could be with Verizon's 3G coverage. This campaign was followed by new "iDon't" ads for Droid phones which pointed out that Droids could do more than the iPhone could do. In November, AT&T filed a lawsuit against Verizon stating that they reach the same number of customers as Verizon Wireless, and claiming the ads were "misleading" and caused a loss of "incalculable market share." The ads only refer to 3G, and not overall coverage. However, the ads are correct in claiming that many people outside urban areas may not receive 3G, in an industry where 4G may soon be the premium standard. Verizon has edited their ads, removing "out of touch" and adding in small print, "Voice and data services available outside of 3G areas." AT&T still does not agree with the ads, stating in their response, "The ads still confuse non-technical viewers into thinking AT&T provides no service at all outside of its 3G coverage." Verizon responded as follows: "AT&T did not file this lawsuit because Verizon’s 'There’s A Map For That' advertisements are untrue; AT&T sued because Verizon’s ads are true and the truth hurts." AT&T was defeated and Verizon continues to air the "There's A Map For That" ad campaign. AT&T has since issued a response featuring actor Luke Wilson, stating that AT&T covers 97% of Americans.
Early in 2006, Verizon announced their intent to buy out the remaining 45% of stock of Verizon Wireless from Vodafone. Vodafone, however, stated they “have no current plans to exit” the US market by giving up its stake in Verizon Wireless.
On December 19, 2006, it was announced Verizon Wireless' CEO Denny Strigl has been called up to parent Verizon Communications to be the company's new President and COO. He was to begin serving in the new post on January 1, 2007. Verizon Wireless COO Lowell McAdam was to take over Strigl's role as CEO of VZW.
Qwest Communications International Inc. (NYSE: Q) and Verizon Wireless announced on May 5, 2008 that they have signed a 5-year agreement for Qwest to market and sell Verizon Wireless service beginning this summer. Financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.
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