Verizon Wireless Takes AIM

Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest wireless service provider with more than 30 million users, is rolling out its previously announced AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) for its customers with two-way, text-enabled wireless phones. The launch extends the relationship between AOL and Verizon, which added wireless access to AOL e-mail and other content in August via the Verizon mobile Web service.

The New Jersey-based Baby Bell was one of two holdouts among the “Big 5” phone carriers to sign a deal with AOL and its AIM service, which reaches more than 100 million users around the world. Four wireless carriers — AT&T Wireless , Sprint PCS , Nextel and VoiceStream — already have AIM service. So far, only Cingular Wireless remains unsigned.

Verizon customers using the AIM service will only be charged for the messages sent and received according to their Verizon Wireless price plan. They can pay as they go for two cents per message received and ten cents per message sent or select from three bundled plans: 100 sent or received messages for $2.99 per month; 200 sent or received messages for $3.99 per month; and 600 sent or received messages for $7.99 per month. Extra sent messages are ten cents each and received messages are two cents each.

With the AIM service, Verizon Wireless customers can use the same AOL or AIM screen name and password as they do on their computers.

“On our mobile Web service, AOL e-mail is one of the more used sites,” Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, told “A significant portion of our customers use the mobile Web and AOL certainly is in the top five sites.”

It is estimated that about half of Verizon’s customers have two-way, text-enabled mobile telephones.

A pact with AOL is something Verizon Wireless needs in order to keep pace with other U.S. wireless phone carriers. Earlier this summer, AT&T Wireless allied with Microsoft Corp. to sell wireless devices run on the Windows desktop. The deal will ultimately lead to Windows applications on Pocket PCs, Smartphones and laptops, fueled by AT&T Wireless spectrum.

The Dulles, Va.-based AOL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of AOL Time Warner .

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