Verizon Pushes FiOS Digital Voice In 11 States And D.C.

Verizon, hoping to give customers new reasons to keep wireline voice service, is marketing an IP-based FiOS Digital Voice phone service in 11 states and the District of Columbia.

FiOS Digital Voice provides 21 features, including live call-screening, a Web-based call manager utility and caller ID on TV. The service is now available in FiOS markets in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Florida, Texas, Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania and California.

Previously Verizon expected to have FiOS Digital Voice widely deployed in early 2009.

Verizon has been steadily shedding traditional phone lines, as have other telcos, with the rise of wireless phones and cable telephony services. Verizon had 17.9 million total residential access lines in service as of the end of March -- down 11.9% from 20.3 million lines a year earlier.

To promote FiOS Digital Voice, Verizon is offering new customers that sign up by July 24 for FiOS triple- or quad-play bundles that include broadband, TV and FiOS Digital Voice a guaranteed monthly rate for two years. Bundles start at $99.99 a month for a triple-play bundle of FiOS TV Prime, FiOS Digital Voice and FiOS Internet with 15 Mbps downstream and 5 Mbps upstream.

FiOS markets that do not currently have FiOS Digital Voice are Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon, South Carolina and Washington state. Of those markets, only Connecticut is remaining with Verizon after the telco completes the divestiture of wireline operations in 14 states to Frontier Communications.

FiOS Digital Voice features include live voice-mail screening, which lets users hear voice-mail messages as they arrive and decide whether or not to take the incoming call; call logs; "locate me," which tries up to three additional phone numbers if the initial call is not answered; simultaneous ring, to let incoming calls ring up to three numbers; voice mail with e-mail notification; and virtual numbers.

"FiOS Digital Voice sets the standard in the same way that FiOS TV and Internet have, by offering features that others only hope to offer," Eric Bruno, Verizon vice president of consumer product management and development. "Subscribers get more free calling features than cable, delivered with the trusted reliability of our advanced all-fiber network, and they get it all from a company with long-standing expertise in delivering superior phone service."

An additional FiOS Digital Voice line, with its own assigned number and all the same features, costs $9.99 per month.

Separately, Verizon has expanded the FiOS TV Visual 411 directory assistance widget to customers in those same 11 states and Washington, D.C. The Visual 411 Widget enables customers to search by business name, type of business or keywords (such as "florist") and displays a location map along with the address and phone number.