Verizon

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About

Verizon is a telecommunications company providing wired and wireless telephone services and internet in the United States.

Negative Points

In the areas they serve, Verizon seems to have a monopoly on wired phone services and DSL (a form of broadband internet).

Politics

Verizon is apparently against Internet Neutrality (see Sourcewatch:Network neutrality legislation).

Phone / Billing

Verizon engages in the practice of having "local toll areas" which, although apparently something of an industry standard practice these days, is still ethically questionable and has resulted in severe overbilling in at least one case; Verizon's bills also do not itemize these calls.

In another case, The inability of Verizon's customer service reps to do basic math has become somewhat legendary.

See HTYP for details of customer service issues.

Internet

The following practices are reprehensible and anti-competitive:

email lock-in: Verizon's DSL (broadband internet) service also blocks the SMTP port (port 25), thus requiring customers connecting through Verizon to use Verizon's SMTP servers to send email. Furthermore, without special configuration (the details of which can be difficult to find), Verizon's outgoing mail servers will not accept email whose return address is not hosted by them. The combination of these two policies effectively restricts DSL customers to using "@verizon.net" email addresses unless:

  • they have a domain hosted by Verizon, or
  • they have sufficient technical skill and time to discover and implement the authentication work-around.

Verizon's help page for setting up third-party email clients does not mention this blockage or the work-around, leading to an enormous wastage of time trying to figure out why email sending is not working and then further large amounts of time setting up the work-around if it is discovered.

There is more technical discussion on HTYP.

Notes to Archive

Apparently the following is either incorrect or no longer the case, as of 2010-07-28:

domain lock-in: Apparently by default, business customers who host their domain-based web sites through Verizon are given email addresses in the form "user.mydomain@verizon.net", even though they should be able to have addresses of the form "user@mydomain" which would be portable (and non-Verizon-dependent) and also compatible with Verizon's SMTP blocking (see above), since Verizon is the host. For a customer wishing to move their web site to another host, this means that even if they do figure out a way around the SMTP blocking, they are still tied to Verizon until they notify everyone of their "new" (user@mydomain) email address (which should have been how it was configured in the first place). Thus Verizon neatly locks down their web hosting customers as well.

in summary: The combination of these two lock-ins sets things up so that Verizon DSL customers essentially have to obtain both of the major internet services (email, web hosting) through Verizon; they lock-ins work together to hopelessly entangle customers who aren't willing (or able) to jump ship entirely, and prevent customers from using other services for anything. This is technically unnecessary, extremely anti-competitive, unfriendly, and wasteful of technical resources (e.g. time spent diagnosing email problems which turn out to be Verizon's port-blocking).

Links

Reference

Official

News

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  • 2007-10-16 Verizon Says It Turned Over Data Without Court Orders: "Verizon Communications, the nation's second-largest telecom company, told congressional investigators that it has provided customers' telephone records to federal authorities in emergency cases without court orders hundreds of times since 2005."
  • 2007-10-08 The 700 MHz Dramedy Continues: examples of Verizon's legal maneuvrings over broadcast frequency bandwidth

Quotes About

2007-09-27: One of Verizon's lower-tier competitors (so this does need to be verified!) reports:

Will Easton of Working Assets said, in an email on 2007-09-27:

This morning's New York Times reported that Verizon Wireless last week refused to allow text messages from NARAL Pro-Choice America, calling them too "controversial" and "unsavory." Unsavory?

Verizon quickly reversed themselves this morning, under heavy criticism. But this episode only shows Verizon's underlying instinct to silence messages based upon the content of those messages.

2006-04-27 Verizon has apparently sent faxes to government officials using the names of people who had not authorized those faxes – not just an astroturf campaign, but an illegal one:

Excerpted from http://marketplace.publicradio.org/shows/2006/04/27/PM200604277.html :

Edward McKenna is the mayor of Red Bank, New Jersey.

In a normal week, he receives about 10 faxes from constituents. In three days last November, McKenna says he got more than 200.

EDWARD McKENNA: "Those faxes all purported to come from people who said they were Red Bank residents. In fact, each fax started out by saying, "I am a Red Bank resident and I vote."

These so-called residents all wrote in support of new legislation to increase competition in the cable industry. McKenna noticed the faxes had names, but no signatures.

EDWARD McKENNA: "When I called them, a number of them said they had not authored any such letter. Nor did they authorize anyone to send it on their behalf."

He says the traced the fax number back to an organization funded by the telephone giant Verizon.