The Empire Strikes Back

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Verizon is not taking VoIP lying down.

First, TWICE sister publication Multichannel News is reporting that Time Warner, Comcast and Bright House Networks have filed a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), saying the phone company engaged in illegal “winback marketing.”

Basically, the cable companies are alleging that once Verizon received a request to “port” one of their customer’s numbers over to the cable company, they barraged them with inducements to retain their landline. According to FCC rules at the time, that form of marketing is a no-no.

Second, according to Om Malik, Verizon is suing everyone: “Verizon’s VoIP patents have become a lucrative source of income for the second-largest phone company in the U.S. After squeezing out $120 million from Vonage, the company has been filing patent infringement lawsuits against all comers — from tiny startups to cable giants like Cox. Today Verizon went after Charter Communications.”

These moves give off the faint whiff of desperation, but why? From the looks of Verizon’s fourth quarter financials, the totality of their business isn’t in bad shape at all.

An interesting related question: is Verizon (and the Bells generally) more concerned with VoIP cord cutters or cellular cord cutters? I’d hazard a guess that for now it’s the cable VoIP users that are the biggest concern as a cellular cord cutter would probably not sign up for cable VoIP either. (Malik has an interesting post on the landline/VoIP dynamic here.)

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