Over the last couple of years, when I've wanted to take the temperature of the Vonage user community, I've often stopped at the Vonage Forum. This is a privately run enterprise, totally independent of Vonage. More than 23,000 people have joined the Forum since it was officially launched three years ago this month.
Anyhow, I have been noticing a growing number of posts in which many Vonage users and Vonage Forum Members have been complaining about the quality of Vonage calls over Comcast broadband connections.
It's interesting that there are relatively few similar complaints about the quality of these Vonage calls over other broadband provider networks. Occasionally you'll read about Verizon or AT&T complaints, but rarely.
But something has happened. Two weeks ago, a Vonage Forum Member named rdstoll began a Vonage Forum thread called Comcast vs. Vonage. The last time I checked, this thread had 116 posts and nearly 7,000 page views. That's an exceptionally high number.
Although you will see all manner of opinions on this thread, there seems to be a sentiment that - politely put - Comcast could really be doing a better job of carrying Vonage bits.
There's not much of a leap from that belief to one, expressed by some Vonage Forum Members, that the connection quality problems they are having over their Comcast lines just might not be coincidental. What's also important to recognize is that many of these complaints are from Vonage users and Forum Members who have been around for awhile, and are more used to giving problem-solving advice in the Forum then venting about it.
"I am no believer in conspiracies, but having seen two episodes of Vonage issues tied directly to 'work' being done at Comcast, I cannot help but wonder what Comcast is up to," rdstoll wrote in his thread-launching post. "Have absolutely no faith in baby bells or cable companies, and would not be surprised if they weren't tinkering with some things to piss off Vonage users."
"Well, Comcast is doing their own VoIP service in some areas now.... considering they have a competing product at a higher price.... well, you can be the judge on it," a Forum Member named VonageTPA adds.
"I certainly hope that your conspiracy theory belongs on a bad episode of the 'X-Files', but sadly it's not outside the realm of possibility," writes NateHoy, who has been chosen "Vonage Forum Member of the Week at least twice by Forum founder and admin Dan Connor.
"VoIP from 'independents' like Vonage is a threat to the ISP industry because they are 'yet another bandwidth hog' making flat rate Internet access harder to provide due to increasing bandwidth demands," NateHoy adds. "They are also a threat to the local telcos as they are direct competitors.
"Unfortunately, VoIP depends on ISP's for bandwidth so our lines work, and on local telcos for access to their local bridges to hop onto the POTS network so we can talk to mere (mortals)," he writes.
It's in the last graf of his post that NateHoy implies that all may not be on the up and up:
"And a little intentional 'oopsie' goes a long way toward discrediting VoIP..."
Are these complaints scapegoating by Vonage users, or is there something here? TalkBack and let us know!