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Verizon Drops DSL Surcharge

Verizon has joined BellSouth in dropping plans to ad a "supplier surcharge" to DSL customer's bills.

Both its new charge, and one BellSouth planned to add, were about the figure same as the Universal Service Fund fees they had to take off their bills now that they are no longer required to pay into the fund on their broadband revenues.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who spearheaded the move to reclassify broadband and remove its revenues from the USF fund, was not pleased with the moves, and had prepared letters of inquiry into the new charges. The FCC had been looking for the companies to pass the savings along to customers.

After initially defending its charge as covering regulatory and other DLS-related costs, BellSouth late last Friday did an about-face when faced with the potential inquiry and pulled the plug on the surcharge.

"I am pleased that both Verizon and BellSouth have eliminated fees recently imposed on their DSL customers," said Martin in a statement. "Consumers should receive the benefits of the Commission's action last summer to remove regulations imposed on DSL service. The continued deployment of broadband at affordable prices for consumers remains my top priority as Chairman."

Verizon last Friday also defended the charge as simply passing along a new business cost at a time when it would be relatively transparent to the customer, saying it was to pay for some of the new costs associated with DSL as a stand-alone without voice, i.e. circuits and line maintenance, according to Verizon spokeswoman Bobbi Henson.

But by Wednesday, the company had released the following:

"Verizon Communications today announced that, effective immediately, it is dropping previously announced plans to impose a supplier surcharge for DSL-based Internet access service on its retail customers.A small number of customers who have already been billed for the surcharge will receive a credit."

"We have listened to our customers and are eliminating this charge in response to their concerns,” said Verizon Telecom Chief Marketing Officer Bob Ingalls.

"Verizon Online began notifying its retail customers earlier this month of its plans to pass through a surcharge imposed by its affiliated operating telephone companies to cover costs associated with providing DSL service to customers who do not also subscribe to Verizon’s traditional phone service," said Ingalls. "At the same time that the surcharge was to have been added, a federal government charge, the Universal Service Fund recovery fee, was eliminated from the bills.

“We continue to do everything we can to encourage customers to enter the broadband world by choosing one of Verizon's fast, affordable DSL offerings or FiOS ultra-high-speed broadband services where available,” Ingalls said.