Rate Hike Sneak Attack by AT&T and Verizon Hits Business Customers with Brazen Display of Market Power
Big Bell Manipulation of Business Data Services Terms and Conditions Another Reason for Stronger BDS Reform
WASHINGTON DC (July 11, 2016) – A number of the nation’s leading competitive broadband providers are blasting an anti-competitive ploy by AT&T and Verizon to raise broadband prices on business customers.
In filings to the FCC, members of the Broadband Coalition and others across the industry sounded the alarm on the Bell giants’ latest attempt to manipulate the market using anti-competitive lock-up sales conditions to harm competition. They want the FCC to stop a new attempt by AT&T and Verizon to hike prices for broadband lines used by business, schools, libraries, ATM machines and gas pumps.
“This rate hike sneak attack by AT&T and Verizon is a brazen display of market power, and a slap in the face to business customers who want more choice, lower prices and better service,” said a spokesperson for the Broadband Coalition.
The FCC’s investigation into the sales practices of Verizon and AT&T earlier this year found that their manipulative use of terms and conditions and lock up agreements were keeping prices high and blocking new networks and new competition. AT&T and Verizon responded to the actions the Commission took as a result of that investigation by eliminating cost-saving provisions and simply raising their rates – a brazen, retaliatory display of market power.
The Big Bell companies face the possibility of more competition now that a historic data collection has found market power abuse. The FCC is seeking to take necessary action to reform the broken Business Data Services market, and the Broadband Coalition pointed to this rate hike attempt as a telling sign that the agency must take stronger action to protect non-profit, government, and business consumers.
“It’s as if the Big Bell companies were told to stop stealing the lunch money, and retaliated by shoving their competition into a locker,” the Broadband Coalition spokesperson said. “It’s time for the FCC to stop the Bells’ bullying by reforming the Business Data Service market to bring more cost saving competition, investment and innovation.”
The FCC must act by Friday, July 15th to stop the rate hike from going into effect.