Verizon Wireless Adds “Friends & Family” — A Throwback To Alltel’s My Circle

In June, when Verizon Wireless (NYSE: VZ) first announced its intentions to acquire Alltel (NYSE: AT) to form the largest U.S. carrier, I asked the question: Is Verizon buying Alltel for its subscribers, or also for its scrappy approach to the market? Of course, the jury is still out, but if Verizon’s announcement today is any indication, the wireless behemoth is going through Alltel’s services one-by-one and smartly picking out the ones that make the most sense. Making the cut today was My Circle, Alltel’s service that allowed subscribers to get unlimited calls to either five or 10 phone numbers of their choice. Verizon Wireless has renamed the service “Friends & Family,” but it will similarly give customers the option of identifying five or 10 landline or wireless numbers that won’t count against their plan minutes. T-Mobile has a competing service called My Faves. Verizon’s service will start Feb. 15, and will be free as long as you have a qualifying plan (For five numbers, a single line must have at least 900 minutes, while a family plan must have 1,400). Release.

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