After years of battling Verizon
to obtain DSL without mandatory phone service (aka dry loop or naked DSL), consumers were finally able to order just
a DSL line starting back in 2004. However, last month in an apparent attempt to milk DSL customers for additional money Verizon started requiring that new customers once again sign up for landline service if they want DSL. Consumer groups have been arguing
that the shift is a bare-knuckled anti-consumer move that drives up costs for millions of subscribers.
With Verizon still pushing to get regulatory approval of their significant spectrum and marketing deal with the cable industry, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) has sent Verizon a letter
(pdf) acknowledging that wireless is dandy, but asking the carrier what happens to the company's landline networks. In particular, Doyle asks the telco not only about what it plans to do with its DSL network, and what exactly motivated their decision to eliminate standalone DSL:
What are Verizon's plan for its DSL network? Does the company plan to continue investing in network maintenance and upgrades?...What was the reason behind Verizon's recent decision to couple "standalone DSL" service with voice service for new subscribers or those customers seeking to make changes to their service?
Doyle's asking a very important question here that impacts tens of millions of users. Recent earnings reports have made it very clear that both AT&T and Verizon have given up completely on the tens of millions of users still stuck on slow DSL, allowing them to flee to cable alternatives (by the thousands
) as the companies shift their focus to wireless and more profitable $10 per gigabyte overages.
Verizon has made it specifically clear they plan on focusing on their fixed LTE Home Fusion product in areas where they don't offer FiOS, providing them a non-union alternative to DSL. It seems pretty clear Verizon intends to let DSL shrivel and die but won't acknowledge as much. As a result huge chunks of the country stand to be left on last-generation broadband infrastructure nobody wants to update, and few are asking (or seem to be concerned about) what happens next for these users.