This was a big week for me personally as I switched service providers. I should mention I have free VoIP accounts coming out of my ears. I often test them but I haven’t switched to any of them because to be quite honest, what I have works fine. I have been using AT&T CallVantage for years and the service has been great. I do have occasional hiccups when I upload massive quantities of photos but otherwise the service is bulletproof.
As I live in an area which is supplied by Cablevision, I have been using their Optimum Online service for as long as I can remember. Recently however I have been experiencing lost packets. I wrote about the problem back in June.
I have a cable modem from Cablevision which feeds into an ATA from AT&T and this feeds into a Linksys AP which supplies WiFi. Somewhere along the line there were lost packets. When I called Cablevision they said they could not verify the lost packets. So I did not know if there was a service or equipment problem. If it was equipment, I didn’t know which piece of equipment to eliminate.
A few nights back my wife was on the phone with Cablevision and they asked if she wanted to switch phone service. She handed me the phone and I said yes.
I had been meaning to call and switch for a few months but had no time. In my estimation, unless I wanted to start doing network troubleshooting myself, I had no choice but to switch to Cablevision so I had a single throat to choke.
The customer service representative started selling me by explaining that I don’t need to worry about financial problems with their company unlike SunRocket and Vonage. He was quite knowledgeable about the market. I was pretty amazed. He knew some of the Vonage patent issues and could speak to them intelligently.
The cost for the service is $15/month and the rep as I recall said this is a lot less than “AT&T is robbing me for.” While this sounds pretty classless in writing, on the phone it came across better. I thought the rep was a keeper but could use a bit of polishing.
He asked if I wanted LNP and I did. The cost surprised me as it is a one time fee of $40 to keep my phone number. I think I pay AT&T about $30+ a month so I will save money within a few months.
What did annoy me about the call is that I didn’t qualify for the best plan because I am an Optimum double-play customer as I have cable TV service as well. Since I am a double-play customer I am not eligible for as good a deal as a single-play customer. This is pretty annoying to me and is not making me happy.
But to be honest I just want phone and internet service that works.
What is amazing about this story is the phone companies are suing Vonage out of existence and it seems the cable companies (at least Cablevision) is doing the best job of taking advantage of it.
In addition the cable companies are in a great position because any time you call them to change or order anything, they try to sell you something. They have free advertising on their TV networks and they have incoming calls of potential customers which are also free.
This is quite an advantage for Cablevision and others.
I ran into a high-level ex-Vonage employee yesterday and got into a conversation with him and someone who runs a company supplying Vonage with a service. I won’t give more details to protect the innocent.
The conversation basically centered on these two people outlining all the things Vonage hasn’t done like bundling broadband services into their offering and/or partnering with wireless companies. To be fair, Vonage has done some of this but not too successfully. A few years back Vonage had a stellar reputation — at least a lot better than today… That was the time to strike these deals.
Perhaps management was too focused on going public and didn’t do as many deals as was needed to keep them alive for the long run.
The rush to go public may have been accelerated because the company knew they would need the money to pay the lawsuits they would lose. If this is the case, I would expect huge investor lawsuits. Not to say there aren’t already a massive number of lawsuits the company is dealing with.