Friday, May 2, 2008

Verizon (merger of MCI, MFS Telecom, RhythmsDSL, Genuity)

Verizon Communications, Inc. was formed in 2000 when Bell Atlantic merged with GTE, formerly the largest independent local exchange telephone company in the United States. In 2005, Verizon acquired MCI, formerly WorldCom, after SBC Communications agreed to acquire AT&T Corp. Based in New York, Verizon boasts about 240,000 employees (2006) under CEO/Chairman Ivan Seidenberg and President/Vice-Chariman Dennis Strigl.

Verizon offer a variety of communication services: Broadband Internet services, television service, local wireline and wireless telecommunication services. Their land line services include POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) as well as VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) and optical fiber line services. Verizon also offers a product in a joint venture with Microsoft called “Verizon Web Calling”, a VoIP service used within Windows Live messenger. Their optical fiber lines provide video service with hundreds of channels, including 20 high-definition channels. Verizon also provides DIRECTV.

For a T1 line, or similar dedicated access services, Verizon signs their customers to a minimum three (3) year contract term or service extension to meet the requirement for those with less than 36 months remaining. Their Mean Time to Repair (MTTR) is at a threshold of 4 hours for any downtime that may occur during their guaranteed 99.9% network availability (NA). If the MTTR for an interruption exceeds four (4) hours, then “Verizon will provide a credit of fifty percent (50%) of the monthly recurring charge for any individual Local TLS UNI that is unavailable for use for more than four (4) consecutive hours during the calendar month.” “If Network Availability across any Local TLS UNI in a customer’s Local TLS network less than the threshold of 99.90% for a calendar month Verizon will provide a credit equal to ten percent (10%) of the associated monthly recurring charge for the UNI that did not meet the threshold during that calendar month.” (Verizon SLA)

The company claims 62 million customers nationwide, but broadband connections are only a bit over 7.5 million. As for the network, you may find it pretty difficult to find any direct information on their websites. There’s a reason for that; the network is simply bad, and Verizon Sales Representatives are never straightforward as to what they are trying to sell you. Are they selling you a well priced T1, but it’s really a Frame Relay T1? Or are you going to get a T1 that runs over MCI’s IP network? This is where things can get sneaky with Verizon. Verizon Business (old MCI/UUnet) is seperate from Verizon Data (Verizon's Network) and the pricing is completely different when they sell the same thing.

Verizon is virtually a monopoly because of all of their major acquisitions. They very possibly own 80% of the entire Internet and virtually own or control all terrestrial circuits in the US.

Make sure you ask a lot of questions when getting Verizon T1, though. If you get it from their MCI division, the Internet will be the best; period. MCI used to be UUNet so although the network is aging, it is still among the best you will get. If Verizon sells you their own access from their Genuity network, the ping will be fantastic, but the rest leaves room to be desired. If they sell you service from their own Verizon network, which is pretty much Frame Relay, you’ll be very upset. Simply put, you have to order a T1 from MCI for it to be any good. If you buy Verizon, find out if it’s Genuity or Verizon’s own Frame relay (no CIR) because you should do all you can to avoid the Frame Relay network. Unknowing customers are told they’ll receive a T1 line in a 3 year contract with an amazing price, but may get stuck w/ a pseudo T1 line.

The best thing to do is to go to and call MCI to get top notch T1 there. There is no better provider of T1 service than MCI (now part of Verizon). Here’s a downer, though: MCI is VERY expensive. That’s the reason Verizon doesn’t sell their MCI T1s exclusively. They have their Genuity or Verizon frame relay network connectivity for “lower end” T1.If you’re looking into Verizon, be careful of their billing system. If you get MCI, they had upwards to 220 different billing systems. It’s supposed to be around 60 now, but that’s still a ridiculously large amount of billing plans for one service. WATCH OUT FOR BILLING!

Aside from the cost and quality of service, customer service is also atrocious. It takes up to 3 weeks to simply get an email set up. Dispatches to repair service have a fairly good response, though. Oh, and cancellation with Verizon is a nightmare. They frequently ruin billing and then send collections companies, namely IC Systems, after people, which can severely damage a person’s credit score for no reason.

The Good: Service depends on the network you use. MCI’s network offers among the best in the business.

The Bad: Most customers may not know that Verizon sell different networks for comparable prices. MCI would be the best choice, but it is very expensive, plus you may be overcharged at an even higher rate if you get stuck with a more expensive billing system. Customers calling with problems may find that their calls are not responded to or returned. Why does it also take 2 weeks to set up a simple email account or MX record? Verizon business tactics and ethics are also questionable at times (bullying CLECs, cutting phone lines to impede competition, dragging their feet on installs, waiting for the DSL market to be educated by smaller companies and them steamrolling them putting many DSL companies out of business, blocking important technologies, etc)

The Bottom Line: Very difficult to find specs on their actual networks. I find that those companies with better networks like to flaunt what they have, and information is easily found on their websites. Verizon does not have anything aside from claiming to have “the best network”, which is actually true if you count their MCI network. Make sure you ask what network Verizon is selling you service on, and make sure you can get the best deal when it comes to billing. They definitely have a lot to choose from.