Verizon Offers DSL Straight Up

UPDATED: Verizon customers in 13 states can drop their wireline phone service while retaining their broadband connection, a spokeswoman for the regional telecom said.

Standalone digital subscriber line (DSL), sometimes called “naked” DSL, is aimed at subscribers who are happy with Verizon DSL but want voice service from a wireless carrier, Voice over IP startup or cable operator.

“We’ve been working for some time now to redesign our legacy DSL systems to accommodate customers who want to purchase DSL from us but who do not want wireline phone service from Verizon,” said Bobbi Henson, a Verizon spokeswoman.

The offer, which became effective this week, is available to current customers who have DSL and wireline service from Maine to Virginia and will allow subscribers to port their local numbers to another provider.

New York-based Verizon plans to expand its naked DSL offering beyond its traditional Northeast footprint in the “near future,” but there’s no set timetable, Henson said.

The cost is the same as Verizon’s current DSL prices: $29.95 with an annual contract; or $37.95 for a month-to-month agreement.

Prices are subject to change, and there are no immediate plans to offer additional stand-alone offerings, Henson said. At the end of 2004, Verizon had a total of 3.6 million DSL customers.

Verizon isn’t the first carrier to offer naked DSL. In late February 2004, Qwest offered its customers the option in Denver. Silvia M. McLachlan, a Qwest spokeswoman, said the company has approximately 25,000 standalone DSL customers.

Industry-watchers say naked DSL carries opportunities and risks for carriers.

“It will most likely help them attract more DSL subscribers,” said Joseph Laszlo, a senior analyst with JupiterResearch, which is owned by the parent company of this Web site. “But … even if people are more likely to buy and stick with Verizon DSL, consumers will also be more prone to drop Verizon’s voice service over time, too.”

While Verizon and Qwest move ahead with naked DSL, BellSouth opposed states that would require them to offer standalone broadband.

Last month, the Federal Communications Commission upheld BellSouth’s decision to bundle DSL with its voice service. The 3-2 decision pre-empted rulings by Georgia, Florida and several other states requiring BellSouth to offer standalone DSL to customers who choose to use rival voice services.

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