Battling Carriers

Do we have meaningful competition among broadband carriers? See the Verizon PolicyBlog comments for an example of what the competition looks like. Here are Verizon VP Tom Taulke’s comments on retention marketing:

First, should consumers have information from all providers before choosing a carrier for voice or video services . . . or a package of services? Of course. That seems like a no-brainer. Information – the much-touted concept of transparency – is both the consumer’s and competition’s best friend. How can consumers know if they’re getting the best deal if one of the service providers can’t give them information before they’ve made the purchase?

Second, should competitors in the wireline communications marketplace operate by the same rules? Again, a no-brainer. Policymakers love to talk about “competition” and the proverbial “level playing field.” Today, cable is fully engaged in “win-back” marketing directed toward any customer who decides to switch to Verizon’s FIOS video. Yet, this complaint is designed to prohibit Verizon from marketing – or even providing information — to a customer who decides to switch from Verizon to cable-provided voice service.

Kyle McSlarrow of the cable industry comments.

Here is what is really going on. For the first time in history, Verizon’s entrenched incumbent position in the phone marketplace is being challenged successfully by cable competitors providing digital phone service, a relatively new marketplace development that gives consumers more choice, better value, and — according to J.D. Power and Associates — provides consumers greater satisfaction in every region of the United States. Not to put too fine a point on it: Verizon is losing customers.

Naturally, you’ll do everything you can to retain them. I get that. But, the law is very clear: Verizon can market to its heart’s content 362 days of the year to its customers. However, when customers make a decision to leave you, you are obligated to honor their decision to request that their phone number be transferred to their new provider, and respect their privacy by porting their current number within 4 days without harassing them with marketing retention calls. Congress, on a bipartisan basis, and the FCC have previously recognized that integrity in the number porting process is essential for true competition to flourish.

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