Verizon OKs Number Portability in Fla.

Verizon Communications Inc. will allow customers to take their telephone numbers to competitor Bright House Networks in Florida, ending a formal complaint proceeding that had been initiated by the cable operator with the state Public Service Commission.

Settlement discussions were facilitated by the state's attorney general, Charlie Crist, who intervened in the case in February. Crist concluded that Verizon's practice of refusing to allow consumers to take their numbers to Bright House, unless they also dropped Verizon’s digital-subscriber-line service, violated state and federal laws and was anti-competitive behavior.

Bright House raised the complaint last September, when it complained to the PSC that it lost 24% of its new telephone sign-ups between June and August of last year because consumers canceled the switch when they found that they'd lose their DSL -- and, therefore, their familiar e-mail addresses -- if they took the cable operator's phone service.

Verizon said at the time that technical constraints prevented it from unbundling the two products, but the company now offers stand-alone DSL service.

According to the stipulated agreement, Verizon will "without delay" transfer all requested numbers to Bright House.