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Verizon Asks FCC to Make Switching to FiOS TV Easier

Verizon Communications asked the Federal Communications Commission to make it easier for customers to switch from video providers -- say, from a cable service -- to its own FiOS TV video service.

In a request for a declaratory ruling filed with the commission Wednesday, Verizon asked the FCC to "make it as easy for consumers to choose a new video provider as it already is for them to switch voice providers."

Verizon said that while phone-company practice is to allow a phone-service provider to submit a disconnection order for its new customer, cable operators require the customer to ask for a disconnect from video service, which impedes competition because it "significantly complicates the process," making it harder to switch service.

It wants the FCC to require cable to make the process easier.

Verizon made a separate filing to the commission earlier this week, complaining that cable operators were impeding Verizon's efforts to market its competing phone service to cable-phone subscribers.

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association was preparing a response at press time, but the Verizon filing followed complaints by cable operators last month that it was Verizon that was trying to prevent its own customers from switching to cable-phone service by violating number-portability rules on how, and how swiftly, phone numbers must be transferred to new carriers.

“It is regrettable that rather than stop its own anticompetitive behavior which thwarts consumer choice, Verizon wants to confuse these issues, " Comcast spokewoman Sena Fitzmaurice said of the move.  "Verizon does not have to rely on Comcast or any video provider for a customer to make a change in video service providers.  Conversely, Comcast and other competitive voice providers must depend on Verizon to release a customer's telephone number so that Comcast can install its voice service. 

"If Verizon was really serious about wanting to help consumer choice, they would support porting wireline telephone numbers in less than 24 hours, as Comcast has proposed, just like they do for wireless."

The National Cable & Telecommunications Association was equally critical: "Verizon's fairy tale complaint is a lame attempt to deflect criticism from its years-long illegal practice of misusing proprietary information to prevent consumers from switching to a new phone provider," said NCTA spokesman Brian Dietz. "This is yet another example of Verizon looking for a regulatory handout to help them compete, rather than focusing on a customer-friendly approach to providing - or switching - service."