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Now Verizon Wants Cable TV Portability. No Really!

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With the clock ticking on FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s tenure, his special friends in the phone business are asking him to give them the moon, the stars and the sun: In other words, a cable TV version of number portability.

Verizon today asked the Federal Communications Commission to require the cable industry to make it as easy for consumers to choose a new video provider as it already is for them to switch voice providers. The process to switch video providers is more cumbersome for consumers…Cable incumbents do not accept disconnect orders from the new provider; instead, they require the customer to contact them directly to cancel service after choosing a new video provider and to return equipment. (press release)

Verizon’s arguments and press release may seem consumer-friendly, but one has to take all of it with a barrel of salt. Now, as you well know, I am no fan of cable companies — who apparently want to watch what you are doing inside your living room — but it’s hard to believe Verizon.

Even despite all the legal and other hassles, the satellite guys have been competing with cable companies for video customers — and they didn’t need a sugar daddy (aka the FCC) to help them out. Verizon should learn to compete in the open market.

Must I remind you that Verizon is the same company that rips out copper cables in favor of its own fiber, thereby taking away your ability to switch your broadband or voice service to another provider? Verizon itself delayed the switching of “broadband” service when customers wanted to buy DSL from another company, thus driving many of them out of business. In fact, incumbent phone companies indulge in such delays even now.

I think both incumbents — the cable and phone operators — are waging a war of words, and none of them, including the newly “open” Verizon, have consumers’ best interests in mind.

The P2P arguments, open networks, and now video portability all seem to be part of a calculated image makeover for Verizon. But as my granddaddy used to say: Just because you paint stripes on a donkey, it doesn’t make it a zebra.

7 Responses to “Now Verizon Wants Cable TV Portability. No Really!”

  1. I am on Verizon FIOS for my cable and, thus far, it has been a disaster. They seemed to have rushed into the cable TV business without getting all their ducks in a row first.

    The worst part is they recently upgraded their menu system and the new menu is the buggiest and slowest thing I’ve ever seen. It’s great when a company that can provide fiber optic internet cannot create a menu system that shows the text descriptions of movies without having it pause for 10+ seconds frequently as you try to use it.

    So, you’ll have to pardon me if I get a little chuckle out of them wanting to make it easier for people to switch to them.

  2. John Thacker

    So Om, you can’t find anything to actually criticize in the proposal, so you settle for not liking Verizon as a reason to be against it?

    Verizon is a nasty monopolist when it comes to phone service– and the cable companies are the reverse on cable TV. Both plead for open access when trying to offer competition on the other guy’s home turf, and oppose it on their own.

    None of that makes for a reason to oppose a policy. I can support a policy without worrying about my allies of convenience.

  3. Justin Lorry

    You did not mention that the CABLE monopolists are asking the FCC for similar help against Verizon when they capture a phone customer. In the phone market, a service provider can switch the service for a comsumer upon request. Try that same manuever with your cable service and COMCAST will make you call them first and try to stop the switch.

    Video service portablity is an idea whose time has come!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I think the Hypocrites Verizon need to change there Cellphone charge to get out of cellphone contracts before they start on cable issues. You can’t leave a verizon contract unless you are dead or pay like 175 dollars…