Qwest Communications International is ending its relationship with Sprint Nextel and has struck a new deal to resell wireless service through Verizon Wireless.
The company said Monday that it plans to resell wireless service from Verizon Wireless starting this summer. The companies have signed a five-year contract. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed.
Qwest has been reselling Sprint's wireless service since 2004 under its own brand. A spokesman for the phone company said it will continue to service customers on the Sprint network until its contract expires with Sprint in February 2009. Current customers will be given the option to move over to Verizon's service. Subscribers will also likely be given free replacement phones if they choose to keep their service and switch to Verizon.
Under the terms of the new deal, Qwest will not market the new Verizon offering under its own brand, but it will sell the service as part of a packaged bundle with customers still getting a single bill for all their Qwest services.
Qwest's CEO said earlier this year that the company was looking at other partners in wireless. There had been speculation at the time that Verizon Wireless would be the new partner.
The news surely comes as a blow to Sprint Nextel, which has been losing customers the past several quarters. Qwest has about 824,000 wireless subscribers that use Sprint's network. Sprint ended 2007 with about 53.8 million subscribers in total.