IRVINE, CA — Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless service provider, today announced that for the year 2000, its total California customers grew 21 percent over the previous year. Helping to fuel the growth were a series of new, innovative products and the opening of nine new retail stores and twenty-one kiosks and carts in California during 2000.
"Today, more Californians rely on Verizon Wireless for their wireless communication needs than any other company," said Mike Finley - Regional President, Southern California. "We, in turn, are committed to providing exceptional service to our customers. Our efforts were recognized in 2000 when we won top honors for customer satisfaction in Los Angeles and San Diego from J.D. Power and Associates, and we were named 'Official Wireless Partner' for the City of San Diego."
Verizon Wireless continued to fortify its network to provide high quality wireless service for California, investing more than $750 million in its California network during 2000. This capital investment not only expanded the digital network, but also increased capacity for wireless voice and data services to meet the demand of customers statewide.
"Our commitment to California customers remains constant," said Ralph Martinez - Regional President, Northern California. "From the Oregon border through the central valley and coast, down to Southern California, we achieved significant customer growth in 2000 in part by investing in our network and delivering value-based wireless voice and data services to our customers."
Verizon Wireless also took an industry-leading position in 2000 by announcing a series of initiatives to make using wireless phones in the car easier and ultimately safer. These initiatives were aimed at increasing the development, affordability and awareness of hands-free technologies, and, in fact, headset sales in California grew nearly 1,400 percent in 2000 compared to 1999. Significant announcements by Verizon Wireless in California during 2000 included:
Mobile WebSM - A wireless Internet service that provides easy access to E-mail, stocks, news, weather, scores, calendar, address, horoscope, the lottery and other Internet services. Subscribers can even comparison shop and play an interactive game right on the screen of their wireless phone.
Mobile Messaging - Verizon Wireless introduced Mobile Messaging, a new two-way short messaging service (SMS) that enables its customers to join in an emerging communications craze - staying in touch easily and discreetly by swapping text messages via their digital wireless phones. Customers with a two-way SMS-capable handset can chat quickly and inexpensively with Mobile Messaging by just tapping the keypad. Initially launched in Los Angeles in November 2000, the service was renamed Mobile MessengerSM and rolled out to 200 additional U.S. markets in January 2001.
SingleRateSM - Verizon Wireless introduced new nationwide flat-rate pricing options for consumers and businesses that want competitive, predictable coast-to-coast pricing with no roaming or long distance charges. The SingleRateSM plans give customers one of the industry's lowest entry points for flat-rate digital wireless service.
New Every TwoSM - Verizon Wireless announced a first-of-a-kind plan that aggressively addresses the evolutionary nature of wireless technology, by offering to upgrade customers' wireless phones for free, every two years. With the New Every Two program, customers who sign up for a two-year digital wireless service agreement with monthly access of $34.99 or more, will get a free handset upgrade, up to $100, if they renew their two-year service contract.
Family ShareSM - Verizon Wireless announced a group of calling plans that make it simple and affordable for California families to keep in touch. The company's Family SharePlan program includes several calling plans that make it easier and more affordable for families to subscribe to wireless service.
Mobile-to-Mobile Calling - Verizon Wireless expanded its first-of-a-kind promotion that provides additional airtime minutes for calls, between eligible Verizon Wireless customers, in the same local calling area.
5-State Home Calling Area - The company introduced a new series of Digital Plus calling plans that enable California customers to travel throughout California, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Hawaii, and use their included Anytime, and Night and Weekend minutes to make and receive calls - with no roaming charges.
Long Distance to Mexico Rate Cut - Verizon Wireless announced that it is making it more affordable to place calls from Southern California to Mexico, with an across the board regular rate reduction available with any digital plan. The previous long distance rate of 50 cents per minute for long distance calls to Mexico was reduced to 15 cents. Frequent callers can pay a $3 monthly fee and call for 10 cents a minute, plus airtime.
Baja Roaming - Verizon Wireless announced a new Baja roaming service that allows its Southern California customers to place and receive calls in major cities throughout Baja California - from Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas - at a competitive rate of 60 cents per minute, plus long distance charges.
J.D. Power Award Winner - According to the prestigious J.D. Power and Associates 2000 U.S. Wireless Customer Satisfaction StudySM, Verizon Wireless earned top honors "in a tie" in the Greater Los Angeles area (8th year in a row) and San Diego (2nd year in row).
San Diego's Official Wireless Partner - Verizon Wireless was named the "Official Wireless Partner of San Diego" by the City Council in 2000. As a part of the company's partnership with the City, Verizon Wireless will expand its ongoing community involvement in San Diego to lead several volunteer events to help clean city parks, beaches and recreational areas, and help support programs of the City Library.
Verizon Wireless Amphitheater - Verizon Wireless signed a seven-year agreement with SFX (NYSE: SFX), the world's largest provider of live entertainment, for the naming rights to the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre. On April 24, 2000, the 16,300-seat theater was renamed Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.
Verizon Wireless Products at Best Buy - Verizon Wireless announced that its products and services are now available at all 44 Best Buy stores in California to provide the latest wireless products and services where shoppers can easily compare offerings.
Radio Shack Alliance- RadioShack Corporation and Verizon Wireless announced a new strategic alliance, in which RadioShack stores and participating dealers across the U.S. will market and advertise nationwide rate plans for cellular phone service beginning in November 2000. Verizon Wireless will enhance its national retail presence through a new RadioShack store-within-a-store in California this year.
Northern California/Central Valley Digital Service Launch - Verizon Wireless launched its CDMA digital service in Bakersfield, Fresno, Chico and Redding, and areas along Highway 99 in California. Verizon Wireless digital service offers consumers and business customers in those areas can benefit from enhanced features like Caller ID, wireless Internet access, superior digital voice reception, longer battery life, enhanced privacy and extra protection against cloning fraud.
California Regional Presidents - Verizon Wireless appointed Mike Finley as president for the company's Southern California Region and Ralph Martinez as president for the company's Northern California Region.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with 27.5 million wireless voice and data customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp -- now Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) -- and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). The new company includes the assets of Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. The company has a footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Verizon Wireless, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 38,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.