Headlines from the past year…
- “Cutting the cord: households dropping land lines for cell phones” Entrepreneuer
- “As Profit Falls 21%, Verizon Plans to Slash 8,000 Jobs” New York Times
- “All of Verizon’s job cuts, which will hit employees and contractors, will be made in its landline unit, the part of Verizon’s business that offers traditional communications services over copper or fiber cables to businesses and home users. Verizon lost nearly two million home phone customers in the last year, leaving it with 17.2 million residential voice customers.”
- “Are phone land lines fading?” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- “Colleges' Land Lines Nearing Silent End:Cells Force Review Of Dorm Options” Washington Post
- “Exodus from Landlines to Cell Phones Continues” PC Magazine
- “Lamenting the Loss of Land Lines” Wawatosa Now
Have you ever wondered why more is not done with a mainstay of the twentieth century the home phone? Why is it, for example that our mobile phones become increasingly powerful and sophisticated but at the same time the traditional phone is little different than it was 25 years ago?
This was brought home to me in a personal way recently when I tried to add something as simple as call forwarding to my Verizon home phone. Currently I subscribe to a Verizon FIOS triple play with phone, internet, and tv in the bundle. When I inquired about adding call forwarding to my service, I was told, that will be $5.99 extra per month. $5.99 extra??????? Isn’t there a bundle that offers that I politely inquired. No was the response. This is not part of the “package”. This got me thinking, why in heavens name doesn’t Verizon offer this as a package?
Welcome to the world of regulation.Let’s compare and contrast what a service provider must do to turn on a feature like “call forwarding” on a mobile device and a traditional land phone.
Traditional Land Line
Because land phones are regulated at both the federal and more completely at the state level, they must prepare and deliver to regulatory boards filings that describe services offered and the list prices that will be charged. If they want to reduce the price, they must file paperwork. If they want to offer a discount, they must set forth the specific circumstances in which those discounts would apply. So a phone company must:
- prepare documents (not a trivial task),
- file them with several different state regulators,
- get approval from each of them
Compare that with what must be done to introduce call forwarding in the mobile world.
- The company builds call forwarding into the network
- Turns on the capability in the devices
- Announces it to its customers.
Our legislators are going regulation crazy! You know, train wrecks may be fascinating to watch, but ultimately destructive and hurt a bunch of people. If we don’t change, a train wreck is where we are headed. We must slow this train down before it goes off the rails or we may end up like Harrison Ford in “the Fugitive” running for our lives to avoid a runaway locomotive.
Not only should we not regulate the internet, we should tear down the regulations that hold the traditional land line phones stuck in the twentieth century while the rest of the world zips by.
Let Freedom Ring