The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

No, it's not a high-speed Internet porn service (although like all things Web, you can certainly use it for that). In the face of customers dropping their landline phones, Verizon is trying to retain customers any way they can by allowing non-telephone subscribers to get DSL as a separate service. So it's "naked" in the sense of being available without having to buy anything else along with it (although I imagine getting it as part of a bundled telephone package would bring a discount).

This represents an acknowledgement that consumers are abandoning landline phones en masse for mobiles, and there's no turning back. So in order to stay in the game, they're offering naked DSL. Just gaining or retaining that customer is worth decoupling DSL from a telephone package.

The other factor here is the continuing battle for broadband market share between telephone companies and their cable counterparts. After years of trailing cable by 2-to-1, DSL services, sparked by aggressive pricing policies and promotion over the past year, increased their share to 42 percent of the market. Buoyed by such growth, Verizon saw an opportunity to make even further gains by offering its DSL ala carte.

I'm not too clear on how this DSL-without-phone-service deal is being offered, though. I'm guessing you'd still need a live landline telephone? Or would just a phone outlet, sans activated service, work? What about all those wireless consumers who have ditched landlines altogether? I don't see how this would entice them to go for DSL, if they'd have to activate a landline phone to get it.