Qwest is announcing a new five year wireless resale arrangement with Verizon Wireless. Qwest was previously partnered with Sprint for a similar wireless deal, which obviously didn’t work out. Qwest CEO Ed Mueller announced early on in his tenure that he was unhappy with the current Sprint deal. The terms of the agreement are somewhat sketchy, but here are some interesting tidbits:
- Qwest customers will have access to the full line of Verizon Wireless handsets, smartphones and BlackBerry devices, as well as high-speed broadband wireless services for e-mail, Internet access and multimedia services
- Residential customers will be able to choose “wireless only” and be billed directly by Verizon Wireless, or include Verizon Wireless service as part of a Qwest bundle with their home phone, Internet and video services, and receive one bill from Qwest for all services
- Once billing systems are coordinated, residential customers will be able to elect to have their Verizon Wireless service charges included on their Qwest bill
Wireless has been a crutch for Qwest, and resale agreements, while not being ideal, provide the best remedy when nothing else is available. Qwest appears to be warm to resale arrangements. They’ve very publicly said they would rather resell DirecTV than build their own triple play network. Resale seems to be there mid-term, and maybe long-term, strategy for wireless as well. Maybe Verizon offered them a better deal than Sprint. Maybe Qwest sees Sprint as the Titanic and didn’t want to get caught on the top deck listening to the string quartet band while sinking with them. Qwest obviously needs a wireless play to remain competitive. Time will tell if this is the right move. The reality suggests, it might have been their only move.