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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

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May 5, 2008 2:04 PM

Qwest hangs up on Sprint, calls in Verizon for wireless service

Posted by Brier Dudley

Qwest just announced that it's switching wireless partners, meaning that the cellphone service you order from Qwest will be provided by Verizon instead of Sprint starting this summer.

The press release says the companies are also going to partner together on providing wireless services to enterprise customers and explore cooperative approaches to broadband services.

Here's the interesting nugget in the release:

In addition, the companies will work together on bidding for enterprise and government wireless contracts, and collaborate in the development of converged services, such as a unified voicemail box for mobile and landline as well as integration of Qwest's IP networking solutions with Verizon Wireless' mobile data network for business and government customers.

I wonder if this could lead to bigger things -- FiOS in Seattle, perhaps?

For consumers just wondering about their cellphone plans, Qwest will shortly provide information about the transition. Starting in summer, it will resell Verizon services and handsets.

If you order a service bundle from Qwest, you'll still get a single bill from Qwest that includes your Verizon cellphone charges. But if you opt for only wireless phone service and order it from Qwest, you'll still be billed by Verizon.

I've asked what will happen to Qwest customers using its current Sprint-powered wireless services and will post an update when I hear.

Here's that update, from Qwest spokesman Bob Gravely:

When we start offering Verizon Wireless service this summer, current Qwest/Sprint customers will have the option to switch if they choose but don't have to right away and won't have to take any action to keep their current arrangement. Eventually we will transition them to Verizon Wireless but are still working on those details. We’ll make future announcements about that transition as the information is available but don't expect the process to begin until the fourth quarter of this year. In any case, our contract with Sprint lasts through February 2009 so we would fully support anyone who wishes to keep their Sprint service through then and would help them transition after that.

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