More bad news for beaten-up Sprint Nextel (S), though we’ve heard rumours about this for a while: Qwest Communications (Q) is formally ditching long-time partner Sprint as its wireless service partner for larger rival Verizon Wireless, a joint venture of Verizon (VZ) and Vodafone (VOD).
Qwest customers will have access to all of Verizon’s phones, including RIM (RIMM) BlackBerry smartphones. The companies will also work together to build features like a single voicemail box that will work for both a Qwest home phone and a Verizon mobile phone. The companies will also bid together for enterprise and government deals.
Qwest’s goal: To get more subscribers on bundles of service, which could include a mix of home phone, high-speed Internet, wireless, and TV services from DirecTV (DTV). Bundles keep subscribers more loyal and boosts retention — important as more telco subscribers are ditching their home phone for wireless-only service or cheap, Internet phone service from cable companies.
Qwest shares are down 5% today after the company reported weak Q1 earnings.