Verizon Picks InfoSpace to Power Portal

Verizon Communications Friday
launched its Verizon Wireless Web
portal featuring InfoSpace Inc.
content and shopping services.

Integrating InfoSpace’s wireless infrastructure into
Verizon’s mobile Web services allows customers to e-shop,
access information and manage their Internet experience over a Verizon
Wireless-powered cellular phone.

Marc Lefar, Verizon Wireless staff vice president, said it is using
InfoSpace’s platform and integrated suite of services because it allows
Verizon to provide our customers with localized and customized mobile services.

“There is a strong and growing consumer demand for these services,” Lefar
said. “The flexibility and scalability of InfoSpace’s services adds real
value to our service, driving our users to rely on their wireless phone as
the ultimate source of information; anytime, any place and on any device.”

Naveen Jain, InfoSpace founder and chairman, said its partnership with
Verizon Wireless would help maintain customer loyalty for the mobile
communications firm.

“InfoSpace’s wide range of wireless services and the flexibility of our
platform make our infrastructure the first choice for carriers,” Jain said.
“This partnership will empower Verizon Wireless to provide its users with
next-generation services that will help it create a long term relationship
with its mobile customers.”

Mobile Web is a nationwide service providing users access to the Web-based
information they seek over wireless handsets. Mobile Web is designed to
meet each user’s specific personal and business preferences and allows each
user to customize access from a handset, or through Verizon Wireless’ new
portal.

High-tech market research firm Cahners
In-Stat Group
predicts that wireless penetration will more than double
over the next 5 years. However, annual wireless churn rates have increased
4 percent in the last year and will continue to rise if wireless providers
do not focus on customer retention issues.

Ken Hyers, In-Stat Wireless Strategies Service analyst, said it’s debatable
whether carriers are sufficiently aware of the problem that churn presents,
as it is not high on the priority list of upper level management.

“For most, the priority is to maintain high customer acquisition rates,
often at the expense of customer retention, even when the cost to keep a
current customer is a fraction of that to acquire a new one,” Hyers said.

Those wireless service providers that are aware of churn and are willing to
combat its effects have several choices. Friday’s deal is an
attempt to solve customer retention issues by offering both local and
personal Web solutions.

In-Stat found that due to high customer acquisition costs, as well as
continuing support and service costs, current average billing rates
typically do not allow carriers to make a profit from customers during the
first year.

Taking a proactive approach is one of the most effective ways for wireless
companies to combat churn. Marketing campaigns aimed at reaching customers
before they switch to another carrier can minimize customer attrition.

Verizon Wireless is one of the largest wireless communications providers in
the U.S. with more than 25 million wireless voice and data customers and
nearly 4 million paging customers.

The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of
the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell
Atlantic Corp.
and GTE
Corp., among other companies. Verizon operates a wireless
footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population.

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