"Concerned Vonage customers have been calling Charter over the past several weeks," Charter Telephone senior vice president Ted Schremp said in a statement. "Having reliable home phone service is important to them."
Charter has been trying to build its telephone service and in February topped 500,000 customers. It is one of several cable TV companies moving heavily into the phone business and gobbling up bigger shares of the market.
It’s likely that some customers will flee Vonage, said telecom analyst Rich Tehrani, president of Technology Marketing Corp. of Norwalk, Conn. But, he said, there’s no reason to panic.
"I can’t imagine an overnight scenario where 2.2 million people wake up and have no phone service," he said.
Still, many industry-watchers have soured on long-term prospects for the company, which never has turned a profit and needs fast growth to do so. One analyst, Citigroup’s Michael Rollins, said this week that Vonage may go bankrupt by 2009. And after last month’s verdict, it owes Verizon 5.5 percent of revenue it earns under the contested patents.
Vonage could not say how many customers it has in the St. Louis area. But one customer said Friday that he hopes the company pulls through.
"It’s imperative they continue to grow for them to be viable in the long term," said Rich Tehrani, head of Technology Marketing Corp., which publishes the trade magazine Telephony.
Vonage already is losing 55,000 customers a month but has used its heavy marketing to attract more new customers than it lost.