IRVINE, CA — As demand for wireless services continued to grow in 2001, Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless carrier, opened a record number of retail stores in Southern California and enhanced its digital wireless network to provide customers with top quality wireless service and prepare for next generation, high-speed data services.
Last week, Verizon Wireless announced its nationwide growth results, reporting that total customers grew to 29.4 million at the end of 2001, an almost 10 percent increase over year-end 2000. During the fourth quarter of 2001, the company added 715,000 net new customers throughout the U.S.
In 2001,Verizon Wireless opened 19 new retail stores in Southern California, the company's largest annual store expansion to date in this area and more than double the number of new stores opened in 2000, bringing the total number of company-owned Communications Stores and mall kiosks in the region to more than 80. These retail outlets have created more than 200 new jobs for Southland residents.
The company also added 200 new wireless transmission sites throughout Southern California to enhance its wireless network and prepare for future growth, and completed a series of network upgrades that are delivering enhanced call quality to customers in San Diego County on the company's CDMA digital network. The network enhancement created stronger coverage for customers who use their phone while traveling from San Diego to Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura Counties, and enabled San Diego customers to receive voice mail notification almost everywhere they travel throughout Verizon Wireless' national footprint.
"There are now more than 8 million wireless phone users in Southern California, and more of them rely on Verizon Wireless for their wireless communication needs than on any other company," said Greg Klimek, regional president - Southern California. "We, in turn, are committed to providing our customers with exceptional service. Our retail growth is giving customers more convenient access to our products and face-to-face customer service, and our network expansion and enhancement is providing wireless customers the clear, comprehensive coverage and service they demand."
Nationwide, Verizon Wireless invested more than $4 billion in its network in 2001, resulting in a 13 percent increase in cell site coverage, deployment of two-way SMS (short messaging service) throughout the network, and more than 20 percent of the network converted to next generation 1XRTT technology, capable of high-speed data transmission.
In 2002, the company will add additional capacity to handle the projected growth in wireless calling, and will roll out next generation wireless service, also known as 1XRTT, which will offer customers high speed wireless data services, including e-mail, graphics, and Internet access at speeds comparable to home dial-up access.
"Our network is our core product and our competitive advantage," said Klimek. "The strength and consistency of Verizon Wireless' network has a positive impact on the rest of the business ¾ from product and service innovation, and financial performance to customer and community service." Helping to fuel the growth was the introduction of new, innovative products, including: multi-state calling plans, with no roaming charges; and a new prepaid wireless service, targeted at teens, called [FREEUP] with national service, two-way text messaging, voice mail and call waiting. The company was also the first to introduce the Kyocera Smartphone, which combines a digital phone, Palm-powered personal data assistant and wireless modem in one device, and the Motorola V200 Personal Communicator, which features an alphanumeric keyboard that makes it easy to read and compose messages using 2-way text messaging and wireless email.
Verizon Wireless' ongoing commitment to providing Southern Californians with top quality wireless service resulted in several awards during 2001, including:
- J.D. Power and Associates' Highest in Overall Customer Satisfaction - September 26, 2001. San Diego, California.
- Best Wireless Service: The Orange County Register, September 2001. From the "8th Annual The Best of Orange County."
- Verizon Wireless: Best Mobile Communication Company: The San Diego Union-Tribune "San Diego's Best," Friday, August 11, 2001. From the 2001 readers poll, The San Diego Union-Tribune ranks Verizon Wireless the best Wireless Company in San Diego County.
- Favorite Cellular Service - The Press-Enterprise, November 2001. For the third year in a row, The Press-Enterprise's "6th Annual Readers' Choice" publication named Verizon Wireless as the favorite carrier in the Riverside-San Bernardino, CA, area.
- Verizon Wireless is Clear Cut Winner for Best Cellular Service in Los Angeles: FOX-TV News (KTTV-TV, Los Angeles), June 11, 2001. Verizon Wireless ranked best cellular service according to an informal study by FOX 11 News in Los Angeles.
In addition to its business achievements, Verizon Wireless continued its commitment to community service by joining forces with Southern California civic leaders to launch comprehensive domestic violence prevention campaigns in Los Angeles and San Diego, and introducing HopeLineSM a program, which collects and recycles used wireless phones to benefit victims of domestic violence.
The domestic violence prevention and awareness initiatives included cash grants to local domestic violence prevention agencies totaling more than $30,000; donation of cellular phones and free Verizon Wireless service to battered women shelters; launch of an abuse prevention campaign, including the distribution of domestic violence awareness posters and educational materials targeted to local businesses, production and distribution of video and audio public service announcements encouraging Southland residents and businesses to help curb domestic abuse, and distribution of Domestic Violence Survival Guides to local hospitals and libraries.
During October, nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Verizon Wireless awarded more than $200,000 to approximately 30 organizations in California. The outreach was part of Verizon Wireless' ongoing, nationwide campaign to promote awareness and prevention efforts within the communities it serves. Since 1995, the company has donated or recycled more than 45,000 wireless phones for use in emergencies.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the leading wireless communications provider in the U.S., with the largest wireless network and more than 29.4 million customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 97 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.
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