The Verizon service replaces the Sprint service that has been offered by Qwest since it sold its earlier Qwest Wireless service a few years ago.
While Qwest said new customers can begin purchasing Verizon Wireless services and handsets including Research In Motion's BlackBerry and LG Electronics devices, current Qwest Wireless customers remain in limbo until the Denver-based company announces its plan for existing subscribers.
"In the near future, Qwest will begin contacting Qwest Wireless customers with specific Verizon Wireless device and calling plan recommendations," Qwest said in an announcement Wednesday. "At that time, Qwest will waive the contract termination fees for Qwest Wireless customers who switch to Verizon Wireless sold through Qwest."
Qwest added that its residential customers with bundled services can have Verizon Wireless services charges appear on their Qwest bills beginning this fall.
The new offering, which had been in the works for several months, tightens Verizon Wireless' hold over the nation's CDMA infrastructure; if its pending acquisition of CDMA provider Alltel is approved, Verizon Wireless will pass AT&T to become the nation's largest provider of cell phone service. The Qwest deal will add even more users to the Verizon subscriber list.
Telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan indicated that Qwest hasn't been overly successful marketing wireless service as part of a bundle in the past. Qwest "sold these services as part of a bundle of wireline services only," he said in an e-mail. "A customer could not walk into a store and buy a standalone wireless phone. Most customers today buy wireless as a standalone service."
While indicating that customers will be able to have the new Verizon Wireless service included in a bundled bill, Qwest noted that customers can now purchase the Verizon service at Qwest retail outlets, kiosks, and online.