The Winback Wars, Round Two: Verizon v. NCTA

by on June 20, 2008 · 9 comments

Verizon’s Tom Tauke and NCTA’s Kyle McSlarrow take to fisticuffs in their comments (well worth reading and remarkably… candid) on the Verizon Policy Blog after Tom asked “Will Cable and FCC Thwart Consumer Choice?”  In case you missed it, Verizon has been feuding with cable providers before the FCC about Verizon’s practice of calling customers who ask to cancel their telephone service and offering them incentives to stay with Verizon rather than switch to a cable VoIP service.

Adam Thierer very capably addressed this subject several months ago:

there are two issues here: (1) Is Verizon technically violating any existing FCC regulations; and (2) do those rules make any sense?

I’ll leave it to the legal beagles to sort out the answer to question #1. From my perspective, the more important question is, regardless of what the regs say, what’s the impact of all this is on consumers and competition? On that point, it’s hard for me to see how those old number portability regulations make sense if they limit the ability of incumbents to play hard-ball in an attempt to retain customers. After all, that’s what we should want more of in the marketplace: good ol’ fashion head-to-head, facilities-based competition….

Bottom line: the FCC should be careful about regulating customer inducements by incumbents whether those offers happen before or after the porting process. The better approach would be to make sure that the incumbents can offer whatever inducements they want but then also make sure that rivals have a clear opportunity to respond and beat the offer.


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