Verizon Communications Inc. is an American broadband and telecommunications company and a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It was formed in 2000 when Bell Atlantic, one of the Regional Bell Operating Companies, merged with GTE. Prior to its transformation into Verizon, Bell Atlantic had merged with another Regional Bell Operating Company, NYNEX, in 1997. The name is a portmanteau of veritas and horizon.
In 1994, Bell Atlantic became the first Regional Bell Operating Company to entirely drop the original names of its original operating companies. Ameritech and NYNEX (and SBC Communications in 2002) simply added d/b/a names to its operating companies; U S West and BellSouth had merged their operating companies. Operating company titles were simplified to:
In 1996, CEO and Chairman Raymond W. Smith orchestrated Bell Atlantic's merger with NYNEX. When it merged, it moved its corporate headquarters from Philadelphia to New York City. NYNEX was consolidated into this name by 1997.
Prior to its merger with GTE, Bell Atlantic traded on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the "BEL" symbol.
The Bell Atlantic–GTE merger, priced at more than $52 billion at the time of the announcement, closed nearly two years later, following analysis and approvals by Bell Atlantic and GTE shareowners, 27 state regulatory commissions and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and clearance from the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) and various international agencies.
The merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, to form Verizon Communications, became effective on June 30 2000, with an exchange ratio of 1.22 shares of Verizon Communications Common Stock for each share of GTE Common Stock owned. Fractional shares resulting from the exchange of GTE stock into Verizon Communications shares were sold at a price of $55.00 per share. Verizon began trading on the NYSE under its new "VZ" symbol on Monday, July 3 2000.
Meanwhile, on September 21 1999, Bell Atlantic and UK-based Vodafone AirTouch Plc (now Vodafone Group Plc) announced that they had agreed to create a new wireless business with a national footprint, a single brand and a common digital technology – composed of Bell Atlantic's and Vodafone's U.S. wireless assets (Bell Atlantic Mobile (which was previously called Bell Atlantic-NYNEX Mobile by 1997), AirTouch Cellular, PrimeCo Personal Communications, and AirTouch Paging). This wireless joint venture received regulatory approval in six months, and began operations as Verizon Wireless on April 4 2000, kicking off the new "Verizon" brand name. GTE's wireless operations became part of Verizon Wireless – creating what was initially the nation's largest wireless company before Cingular Wireless acquired AT&T Wireless in 2004 – when the Bell Atlantic–GTE merger closed nearly three months later. Verizon then became the majority owner (55%) of Verizon Wireless.
Genuity was formerly the Internet division of GTE Corp and spun off in 2000. Level 3 Communications acquired the assets of the bankrupt ISP in 2002 for only $137 million; a bargain-basement price considering the $616 million that a pre-Bell Atlantic-merger GTE paid for Genuity (then BBN Planet) in 1997.
Verizon shares were made a component of the Dow Jones Industrial Average on April 8 2004. Verizon currently has 140.3 million land lines in service. With the MCI merger, it has more than 250,000 employees. Verizon serves customers throughout much of the United States. The primary states that it provides service to include:
These states are served by the following renamed Bell Operating Companies:
(**) Also served by GTE operating companies (refer below)
It also provides service to secondary markets (mostly from its acquisition of GTE) in:
These states are served by these operating companies:
Many Verizon New England operations were sold to FairPoint Communications on April 1, 2008. Markets included:
Verizon also owns stakes in some international communications companies, most notably 23.14% of Vodafone Italy. On April 3 2006 Verizon agreed to sell its stakes in Verizon Dominicana (operating in the Dominican Republic), CANTV of Venezuela, and Puerto Rico Telephone Company, Inc. (PRT) in Puerto Rico to Telmex and América Móvil for $3.7 billion. Verizon's other international investment is 50% ownership of Gibraltar NYNEX Communications.
In 2002, Verizon sold GTE's former telephone operations in 3 states: Missouri and Alabama operations were sold to CenturyTel, and Kentucky operations were sold to Alltel, which later spun off its landline operations as Windstream. In 2005, Verizon sold off GTE's former telephone operations in Hawaii to The Carlyle Group, This operation is now known as Hawaiian Telcom. As of January 16 2007, Verizon's operations in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont are going to be split off into a new Bell Operating Company, spun off, and merged with FairPoint Communications.
In 2006 Verizon moved its headquarters from New York City to Basking Ridge, New Jersey.
Media coverage has focused on several ways in which that acquisition, once completed, would benefit Verizon, including economies of scale derived from a potential productivity boost to be achieved via the elimination of thousands of jobs at the combined company, and access to the large base of business customers currently served by MCI. The real benefit to Verizon was the acquisition of long-haul lines. The bulk of Verizon's business is concentrated in the eastern United States. This not only renders the company, effectively, a regional phone company, but also forces it to pay usage fees to long-haul carriers, such as former MCI, to complete calls for its customers whenever those calls go outside the Verizon "footprint". That need is obviated by the MCI acquisition and was key in the long term market position strategy. By January 6 2006, MCI was incorporated into Verizon with the name Verizon Business. With this merger, Verizon also acquired the naming rights to the Washington, D.C. home of the Washington Wizards and the Washington Capitals, the Verizon Center (formerly known as the MCI Center). Just prior to the acquisition, MCI had purchased an internet services company, Totality.
Verizon, with MCI, was the largest telecommunications company in the United States based on sales of $75.11 billion, profits of $7.4 billion and assets of $168.13 billion. After completion of the BellSouth/AT&T Inc. merger, AT&T Inc. became the largest telecommunications company in the world in terms of assets and profits.
On May 11, 2006, controversy arose when USA Today revealed that Verizon, along with AT&T Inc. and BellSouth, had turned over the call records of millions of U.S. citizens to the National Security Agency. Verizon flatly denied turning over records to the government, but did not comment on whether MCI, which it had acquired in January, had done so. On October 12, 2007 the company admitted in a letter to the United States House Committee on Energy and Commerce that it had turned over customer information to the FBI and other federal agencies of the U.S. government approximately 94,000 times from January 2005 to September 2007, providing such information 720 times without being presented with a court order or warrant.
In September 2007, Verizon Wireless initially refused to make their mobile phone network available to NARAL Pro-Choice America for a program which allows people to sign up for pro-choice text messages, on the grounds that they had the right to block "controversial or unsavory" messages. They subsequently reversed the decision, saying "It was an incorrect interpretation of a dusty internal policy, that ... was designed to ward against communications such as anonymous hate messaging and adult materials sent to children." and that Verizon has "great respect for this free flow of ideas."
The 2008 sale of landline operations in Northern New England to FairPoint Communications raised questions. The parties had to work with the governments of Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to ensure the sale went forward.
Verizon provides several different types of land line services - standard POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) service as well as VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and optical fiber line services. In addition, Verizon offers long distance services. Verizon also offers a product that is a joint venture with Microsoft called "Verizon Web Calling", a type of VoIP service used within Windows Live Messenger
Verizon provides Verizon Voice Messaging — voicemail service for residences and businesses.
Verizon VoiceWing is a Voice over IP (VoIP) service offered Deltathree and resold by Verizon that offers phone service over a broadband Internet connection. A DSL, cable, or Verizon FiOS Internet connection, a regular telephone, a router, and a telephone adaptor are required for service.
According to the non-profit spam monitoring organization Spamhaus, Verizon has the largest number of known spammers of all networks worldwide (as of August 2, 2007).
With an estimated $17 billion in assets, Verizon has spun-off the business unit to finance its expansion in wireless and high-speed Internet services. Verizon would not be the first Baby Bell to rid itself of its directory publishing operations; Qwest sold off its QwestDex directory services to become Dex Media, and Illinois Bell, now known as AT&T, sold its directory operations to R. H. Donnelley in 1990 ("AT&T Yellow Pages published by R. H. Donnelley").
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