Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Vonage Broadband VoIP service provider

Verizon VoiceWing Exits VoIP Business

January 26, 2009

Verizon VoiceWing customers received letters in the last couple of days saying, "We regret to inform you that effective March 31, 2009, Verizon will no longer offer VoiceWing. At that time, all VoiceWing service will be terminated". Rumors of VoiceWing's demise have been circulating, especially with Verizon FiOS (Voice, Video/TV, data) a much more profitable long-term business than single-play VoIP. I should add that Verizon stopped marking VoiceWing last year.

Verizon VoiceWing uses a locked Linksys PAP2 ATA, but the letter says they don't want the ATA back, once again fullfilling prediction #2 in my 2005 VoIP predictions.

I wrote:
2) VoIP providers will continue to harp that the government shouldn't impose any regulations on VoIP and that the industry should be open & free, while simultaneously VoIP providers will continue to alienate their customers by password-protecting and locking the customer's ATA (analog telephony adaptor), thus preventing customers from easily switching to another VoIP provider and using the same ATA. This is hypocrisy at its worst!

Comcast Best in VoIP Quality, AT&T Best in VoIP Reliability

November 13, 2008

Keynote Systems released their latest VoIP quality report with some interesting findings. For one, Comcast, a cable company dominated the voice quality rankings beating the closest competitor by nearly 300 points. As for reliability, to no surprise AT&T won this category, no doubt to their decades of experience in building reliable voice and data networks.

Keynote Systems measures VoIP quality (MOS scores), call completion, etc. by automatically placing calls from corporate apartments using residential VoIP services and network services just like a typical residential customer would.  Service Reliability scores are based on the key performance metrics of Service Availability, Average Answer Time and Number of Dropped Calls.

Vonage Lives to Fight Another Day...

October 20, 2008

Vonage today announced an agreement for a $220.3 million financing which is seen by many experts as crucial to its survival. Silver Point Finance LLC, which already holds a $216 million financing stake in Vonage, will lead the financial deal, which consists of $130.3 million in senior secured first-lien credit, $72.0 million in senior secured second-lien credit and the sale of $18.0 million of convertible secured third-lien notes. The proceeds will be used to help refinance $253 million of debt.

Analysts and bloggers such as the VoIPPrincess, have pointed out that the recent financial crisis and credit crunch made Vonage's refinancing efforts very difficult. I too have had my doubts whether Vonage could secure more financing in this tight credit crunch market.

"We are pleased to reach definitive agreement on this refinancing at a time of unprecedented volatility in the credit markets," said John Rego, Vonage's chief financial officer.

Vonage Email Phishing Scam

October 13, 2008

Look at this email phishing scam purportedly coming from Vonage. You know Vonage has hit the big time when scammers starts targeting them. Unfortunately, the scammers, like many scammers, have poor English skills making their poorly written emails a dead giveaway.

Let me give the scammers some tips for the future:
  1. Spell October correctly. It's not Octomber
  2. This is not grammatically correct (wrong tense) - "You did not accessed your account for more than a month."
  3. Sorry, but 'confront' is a poor word choice - 'compare' is what you meant.

Vonage slams Skype for not following emergency rules

October 9, 2008

Vonage lays down the smackdown for Skype's refusal to adhere to Ofcom rules, an independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries. Last month, Ofcom introduced rules mandating access to emergency services (999 in the United Kingdom) for VoIP providers whose customers make calls that connect to the public switched service.  The rules also specify that caller address information is to be made available to emergency services so that, as far as possible, emergency service operators know where a call is originating from. 

Vonage points out that since it started offering services in the UK in 2005 that all Vonage customers have been able to dial 999.  Vonage also makes available caller address information (CallerID) to emergency operators.

According to Vonage, "Skype is choosing to flout the new rules by claiming that they do not apply and that they could be harmful to public safety. Skype In and Skype Out services offer their customers calls that connect to the public switched service and are therefore caught by Ofcom's new rules." Vonage added, "Skype's statement that compliance could be harmful to public safety is in Vonage's view an abdication of social responsibility - especially when you consider that the telephone provided by Skype is designed to resemble a regular telephone.  To deny consumers the ability to dial 999 is socially irresponsible and potentially very harmful."

Vincent Potier, Managing Director of Vonage UK comments: "This is an absurd position.  How can refusing to allow customers to dial 999 in cases of emergency ever be in the interests of public safety?  It is Skype that is causing harm to public safety, not Ofcom."     

So who's right?

Verizon Loses VoIP Patent case to Cox Communications

October 7, 2008

Rich Tehrani writes a great story with some historical context on how Verizon lost a VoIP patent case (on all 6 patent counts) to Cox Communications. Unfortunately, a bit too late for Vonage which paid millions to settle their patent case with Verizon.
Really though the large telcos are the winners here and consumers are the losers. The US patent system continues to be a barrier to true innovation and consumers are being hurt -- severely so in some cases -- by large companies who use the patent system to prevent other companies from succeeding. Instead of competing with better technology alone, these large companies use large amounts of patents at once to scare new entrants into submission.

Cops Befuddled by Vonage 911 Crying baby emergency call

September 8, 2008

According to the Seminole Chronicle, police were befuddled when they responded to a 911 call with a crying baby on the open phone line, only to discover they were at the wrong house. Apparently, the owner is a Vonage customer and moved without notifying Vonage of the change of address to update the E911 records.

The article explains:
Kelly informed Sanford police of the situation. Upon arrival at the family's home, officers confronted a rather confused and embarrassed father who admitted his son had been playing with his cell phone.

They had moved, the father said, and had not bothered to update their phone carrier, Vonage, with their new address.

What I don't get is how the baby dialed 911 using a cell phone that is tied to Vonage's service. Since when did Vonage start offering cell phone service?

AT&T CallVantage One Step Closer to Oblivion

August 15, 2008

As I predicted on July 3rd, AT&T would soon be dropping its CallVantage broadband VoIP service since they dropped their affiliate marketing channel.

Well, today I learned that AT&T is no longer accepting ANY new orders from ANY source - affiliate or otherwise. The slow death of CallVantage is a bit sad, but it isn't particularly surprising, not only because they dropped the affiliate channel last month but as I have previously indicated, AT&T is heavily promoting their U-Verse fiber-to-copper hybrid service that combines IPTV, data, and U-Verse Voice (in select areas).

It seems a little early to cut the cord on acquiring new Callvantage customers since neither U-Verse or U-Verse Voice are available in most of the country - including my neighborhood where it was promised for this summer. I would think they would want to acquire these customers on CallVantage and then easily port them over to U-Verse when it becomes available in their area. It is much easier and less expensive to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one.

VonagePro Launches

July 28, 2008

Vonage today launched their VonagePro service, their premium service offering that features a brand new softphone with single phone number identity, built-in contacts support, custom ringtones, and more.

Mary Grikas, Executive Director of Device Development for Vonage about the launch of Vonage Companion told me, "As far as the VoIP landscape goes, we feel strongly and we believe that the future of VoIP is not going just be based on price and bundling. Price our experience has told us, does not equate to loyal customers. Our customers are loyal if we help them communicate and if we offer them feature-rich offerings that fit into their lifestyles. Our product strategy is that everything we do is customer-centric and customer-focus."

She added, "VonagePro currently has about 1000 beta testers.

FCC to punish Comcast over Internet blocking

July 26, 2008

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