FORT MEADE, Md. – The National Security Agency announced it has purchased Verizon Wireless, a major telecommunications provider and subsidiary of Verizon Communications, for $9 billion. The acquisition effectively brings with it some 135.5 million customers, making it one of the largest state-owned enterprises in the United States.
In a statement released by the NSA Friday afternoon, Director Michael S. Rogers said Verizon Wireless customers will notice “little to no change” in service during the transition period. However, Director Rogers added, current and future customers can look forward to “exciting and affordable wireless plans” as well as increased 4G coverage. “By utilizing an array of satellites already in use by the NSA, Verizon Wireless will expand its reach and coverage to include areas outside the continental United States,” Rogers said.
Beginning September 1st, Verizon Wireless will offer smart phone plans starting at as little as $25 a month. In addition, all wireless plans will include up to 1 terabyte of cloud storage and unlimited long distance calls on nights and weekends. “For just $2 more a month, customers can enjoy unlimited international calls to Africa and the Middle East,” said Jacob Hersch, the newly appointed Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Verizon Wireless. Hersch, who has prior experience in telecommunications, previously directed the NSA’s now-defunct domestic surveillance program.
Director Rogers said the NSA is in the process of transferring its newly acquired Verizon Wireless servers, which include customer information and records, to its Utah Data Center. Located just outside Bluffdale at Camp Williams, the center primarily serves as a data storage facility for the U.S. Intelligence Community.
Verizon Wireless is ranked first in overall performance among the top four major wireless providers in the United States, which include AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile. The NSA plans to maintain its position by expanding cellular and data coverage beyond the United States. “You don’t need to be American to enjoy 4G speeds or higher,” said Director Rogers. “You just need to be a Verizon Wireless customer.”