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The Customer is Always Right.

By Chip Pickering

The customer is always right. It’s one of our oldest sayings. Powerful in its brevity and clarity.

One year ago today, COMPTEL joined with the Broadband Coalition to launch Customers 4 Competition, an effort to highlight businesses — large, medium and small — which have chosen a competitive broadband provider.

With Customers 4 Competition (C4C), we wanted to provide a platform for customers to tell their broadband stories, in their own words. We collected a wide range of testimonials, from major sporting events like the Boston Marathon to charter schools and research universities. From local car dealerships and banks to nation wide retail and restaurant chains.

Today we announce and welcome 20 new testimonials from customers of competitive provider TelePacific.

City of Kenosha, WI

Some of my favorite C4C video stories include: A competitor helping a local government, the City of Kenosha, WI network their entire city government including the airport, museum and libraries.

Skullcandy

And how one competitive provider helped ear bud and lifestyle company Skullcandy build a global network to break into new markets in China and Europe.

“Competition is the answer.”

-Frm. Chairman Tom Bliley (R-VA)

For the kick off of Customers 4 Competition, we gathered in the halls of the historic Library of Congress Building — America’s national shrine to knowledge, information and access.

It was in this building that President Bill Clinton joined with Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) to sign the landmark, bi-partisan 1996 Telecommunications Act. That milestone made possible customer choice, and launched an unprecedented era of growth in jobs, technology and connectivity.

Highlights from Library of Congress Event
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Sen Ed Markey & Frm. Rep. Tom Bliley

“Competition is the answer. It’s just as true today as it ever was,” said former Chairman Tom Bliley (R-VA), who at the 2014 kickoff event shared stories about how the negotiations of the Act came together in 1996. He reunited with fellow co-author Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass), who talked about how the Act continues to create new opportunities for students, businesses and creative entrepreneurs.

“The 1996 Act was the future then. The 1996 Act is the future today. The 1996 Act is the future tomorrow.”

-Sen. Ed Markey.

It’s been an exciting year for Customers 4 Competition. In October, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler sat down with a group of customers during the COMPTEL show in Dallas. There, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Texas, a Windstream Customer, spoke of the need for affordable options to meet the needs of a non-profit with multiple locations. Masergy Communications, a customer of XO Communications, discussed the importance of technology innovation and reliability in network services.

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Chairman Wheeler did more than listen. Building on his policy vision set forth in an address at tech business incubator 1776, Wheeler sent a message to customers that their ability to chose a provider based on price, customer service or innovation would be protected.

“Let me be clear: transitions to IP are not a license to limit competition,” Wheeler said. He added, “Let there be no mistake: there has been competition before the transition, and there will be competition after the transition.”

“Let me be clear: transitions to IP are not a license to limit competition.”

-Tom Wheeler, FCC

As the competition agenda begins to move in Washington this summer, starting with the issues of technology transitions and competitive access, customers should be encouraged by Wheeler’s remarks and on guard against attempts by the big telecom companies to harm competition.

But while competition has been a boon for business customers, too many businesses still find themselves stuck with just one, or two choices of telecom providers in the market. Options that are slow to deploying new, faster networks from companies that have ranked dead last in customer service. Frustration with the BOBs (Big Old Broadband networks) is driving many to call for action on the competition agenda.

#StopBOB

Customers 4 Competition will continue to help policy makers get a feel for the what’s really at stake in this debate. As the competition agenda begins to move in Washington this summer, starting with the issues of technology transitions and competitive access, the voice of the customer should be front and center.

So happy birthday Customer’s 4 Competition. Together let’s raise a glass, and get back to work.

CEO of INCOMPAS, Former Member of Congress (R-MS), Teacher at Ole Miss, Grateful Dad and Step Dad of 5 young men and 3 young women

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