Washington— Bright House Networks is making a play to require all incumbent phone companies to sell digital-subscriber line service on an a la carte, or “naked,” basis.
The Florida-centric MSO has complained that Verizon Communications and BellSouth Corp. require customers of their DSL and local-phone services to drop both if they just want to change telephone providers.
Moreover, the phone companies won’t transfer customers’ telephone numbers to new phone providers until both services are dropped — a condition Bright House said violates federal and Florida law and frustrates its ability to market voice over Internet protocol to all consumers.
Bright House told the Federal Communications Commission that one way to remedy the situation was to direct every incumbent phone company “to port numbers without delay and to offer 'naked’ DSL, i.e., DSL on a line without voice service also on it.”
Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Inc. have also complained that phone companies refusing to port numbers unless the bundle is dropped are violating FCC number-portability rules.
Time Warner has said an internal company policy that requires dropping both services is not a legally valid excuse for refusing to port numbers.
Many consumers won’t switch landline or cell phone carriers if they can’t retain their phone numbers. Cable VoIP providers can issue new numbers, but a cable attorney said that a smoothly operating number portability scheme makes is easier to market cable phone service.
Some states have ordered the Baby Bells to provide DSL over phone lines that have been leased by voice competitors, to ensure that consumers who want to change local phone providers do not need to locate a new DSL provider.
Last Monday, the Maryland Public Service Commission, in a 4-0 decision, ordered Verizon to allow DSL customers to retain the service when they switch voice carriers and when the new carrier does not charge Verizon for access to the high-frequency portion of the phone line to provision DSL.
BellSouth has asked the FCC to issue a ruling that states do not have authority to impose such a requirement.
At least one Baby Bell, Qwest Communications International Inc., offers naked DSL and Verizon has talked about doing the same.
FCC chairman Michael Powell indicated that last week that the agency was no prepared to order large phone companies to offer naked DSL.
“That hasn’t been proposed,” Powell said.