Verizon Blinks?
By Douglas Rushkoff, Tue Jun 01 14:30:00 GMT 2004

Verizon has quietly dropped the fixed-line requirement for its DSL services in some areas.

In an effort to retain customers who are abandoning twisted pair telephone service in favor of a cable modem and VoIP, Verizon has begun offering customers in certain US regions the ability to subscribe to DSL service without a normal telephone service contract. Previously, DSL was only available as an add-on to landline access.

Although Verizon hasn't yet advertised the option -- lest everyone take them up on it -- at least several customers attempting to cancel their phone service have been made aware of this alternative by retention specialists in the customer service department.

The latest seeming concession by Verizon to the growing landscape of alternative telephone services probably says more about the value of retaining at least one account with as many people as possible, even at risk of a dwindling revenue stream from each.

For the prize at the finish line, as Verizon's plans for technology development well indicate, is to be able to offer all services - cellular, television, home telephone, broadband internet - in the same package bill.

But which umbrella does Verizon plan to use? Through Lucent and others, they are almost finished rolling out a 3G broadband wireless service capable of delivering DSL speed to traveling and home users. On the other, as reported here last week by Eric Lin, Verizon is laying down "Fiber to the Premises" for ultra-high-speed broadband communications and television services.

Perhaps they aren't sure, themselves, which way the cable will crumble. But this much they know for sure: maintain customer relationships, even at break-even margins, by any means necessary. Without them, any future offers will be regarded as junk mail.