January 30, 2007 11:15 AM PST

Verizon adds wireless to bundle

Verizon Communications customers will now be able to get discounts on their Verizon Wireless service if they purchase it as part of a new bundled offering, the company said Tuesday.

The company will sell bundled packages that include various combinations of voice, high-speed Internet access, TV and wireless services as a part of six new pricing plans. The new packages will allow customers to choose a plan that includes two, three or four services.

With Verizon Double Freedom, subscribers can choose to bundle their voice service with high-speed Internet service, TV service through satellite provider DirecTV, or Verizon Wireless phone service. Each two-service combination is priced from $64.99 to $74.99 a month, depending on the service area and the combination of services purchased.

Another plan, Verizon Triple Freedom, combines a voice calling plan with DSL service and either a Verizon Wireless calling plan or DirecTV service. Pricing for those service combinations ranges from $94.99 to $104.99 a month. And finally there is the Verizon Ultimate Freedom plan, which combines all four services--phone, DSL, DirecTV and cell phone service--at prices starting from $134.99 to $144.99 a month. The plans are available now throughout Verizon's service area, except in Vermont, Nevada, Arizona and Washington. Offers will be expanded to Washington soon, the company said.

The bundled packages are not available to customers subscribing to Verizon's Fios fiber-to-the-home service.

Competition between cable operators and phone companies has been heating up over the past year as Verizon and AT&T have rolled out new TV offerings. In addition to building new fiber networks that will allow them to offer services over a single connection, phone companies have also teamed with satellite TV providers, like DirecTV, to add TV to their package in regions where they haven't built their new networks.

The idea is that customers buying a package of services will be more loyal to a single provider. Four cable operators have already begun working with Sprint Nextel so they can add wireless phone service to their bundle. In addition to simply providing discounts through the bundle, these cable operators hope to integrate their services to make the experience more valuable.

So far, neither Verizon nor AT&T has answered back with their own integrated wireless service. But they have started to offer some discounts. During the second half of 2006, Verizon began offering a bundle that allowed people to talk for free between their cell phones and their Verizon home phones. It also provides a single voice mailbox that can be accessed via either service. But the service is limited to certain customers in Texas and Florida. And it doesn't yet integrate any of the broadband or TV services the company is offering.

AT&T, which assumed full ownership of Cingular Wireless after its BellSouth acquisition, also plans to add wireless to its bundle.

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