Verizon to launch voice service in Alaska to complement LTE

Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) will launch voice service on its own network in Alaska starting this fall to complement its LTE data network and bring more competition to the country's northernmost state. Verizon will offer service in Anchorage, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough region, Juneau and Fairbanks.

A little more than a year ago Verizon turned on its LTE network in Alaska. At the time, the carrier said it would offer data service only via its LTE network while continuing to carry voice traffic on the networks of its Alaskan roaming partners. Then, in September 2013, Verizon partnered with the Matanuska Telephone Association (MTA) as part of Verizon's LTE in Rural America program in order to more broadly deploy LTE in Alaska.

Verizon spokesman Scott Charlston told the Anchorage Daily News that after existing Verizon customers who either lived in or traveled to Alaska said the roaming network was not satisfactory, the carrier began to re-evaluate its place in the market.

"We recognize Alaska is a competitive marketplace right now and we are very excited to enter the market beyond just the few data-only markets that we currently sell," Charlston said.
"We expect that we will do quite well up in Alaska."

AT&T Mobility (NYSE: T) currently offers LTE service in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau and coverage in other parts of the state.

The market in Alaska got a jolt in June 2012 when Alaska Communications and GCI agreed to pool their resources into a company to jointly manage their two wireless networks in a bid to cover more of Alaska and guard against incursions from Tier 1 carriers. That agreement finally closed in late July 2013. According to their websites, Alaska Communications has LTE service in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, and GCI offers LTE service in the same metro areas.

"We take them seriously," GCI spokesman David Morris said of Verizon, according to the Anchorage Daily News. "We are hiring about 50 ... new customer service agents through various job fairs we have here, and we are beefing up our retail locations."

Sprint (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) do not currently offer LTE coverage in Alaska but do offer service in the state.

For more:
- see this Anchorage Daily News article

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