Vonage opens SIP credentials?

Tom Keating : VoIP & Gadgets Blog
Tom Keating
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Vonage opens SIP credentials?

A source informed VoIP & Gadgets Blog that Vonage plans to open up their SIP credentials to enable users to configure their own SIP softphones and SIP hardphones to work with the Vonage service at no additional charge. Today Vonage still has kept the SIP credentials "closed" preventing users from using their own SIP devices with the Vonage service. One of the main reasons why Vonage has kept the SIP credentials "closed" is that they charge $9.99/month for their SIP softphone client, which then gives you access to your "personal SIP credentials". It comes with 500 minutes along with a different SIP URI and PSTN number than your main Vonage phone number. The obvious question is why would Vonage do an about face, open up the SIP credentials and start giving away SIP credentials access for "free" when they curerntly charge for them?

According to the source, he stated that Vonage doesn't make that much revenue on softphone subscribers. But he stated the main reason for the about face is that Vonage is starting to feel strong competition from the MSOs/cable companies, Packet8, SunRocket, and the other VoIP broadband players. He also pointed out that several Vonage competitors already offer SIP credentials, including Broadvoice, SIPgate, and others.

People are looking to leverage the IP phones they already have with their VoIP service provider. Why wouldn't Vonage want to leverage the millions of Cisco IP phones and other SIP-based hardware phones out there? Additionally, Asterisk is a very popular open-source IP-based phone system that many Asterisk users have configured with SIP trunks for outbound termination. Vonage is shooting themselves in the foot by forcing the Asterisk community to use Vonage's competitors for PSTN termination.

It's worth mentioning that another reason why Vonage hasn't opened up their SIP credentials is "fraud". That is, how does Vonage prevent its users from openly sharing their SIP credentials with others? There are ways of ensuring that users don't abuse an open SIP credential system. You could monitor usage patterns and look for abuse or you can do something similar to what BroadVoice does - they charge the user 3.9 cents per minute if more than one simultaneous outbound call is active using the same set of SIP credentials.

The source summed up his thoughts when he stated, "If Vonage wants to continue to build their customer numbers and retain the ones they have, then they need to continue to innovate. Offering SIP credentials to users is a perfect way to ensure the loyalty of 'techies' and 'teenagers' that also often recommend a VoIP service provider to their parents and friends."

As for a time-frame when Vonage would open their SIP credentials he claimed it would happen at the end of 1Q.

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