Vonage customers: Finding a new VOIP provider may be tricky

Vonage customers: Finding a new VOIP provider may be tricky

Summary: A federal judge basically kicked Vonage in the wind pipe today leaving 2.2 million lines hanging.

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TOPICS: Unified Comms
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A federal judge basically kicked Vonage in the wind pipe today leaving 2.2 million lines hanging.

The news: Vonage can't accept any new customers while it is still infringing on Verizon's patents. This ruling (see Techmeme discussion) doesn't hit me directly since I'm a customer, but I also realize that Vonage's business model--which is flawed to begin with--depends on adding subscribers at a rapid clip. 

On the bright side Vonage got a stay on an injunction. Overall though, I'm uneasy. Courtroom drama is one thing, but folks typically boil things down to microeconomics. How does this ruling affect me ultimately? I'm a Vonage customer and find the service pretty good. It's a handy home office line. But if Vonage disappears--a fate that's looking more possible by the day--I have to find a new VOIP provider. 

It's a bit surprising how limited my VOIP options really are. Here's my initial survey of the VOIP landscape and where I could take my home office line.

Add a second line with Verizon. This option isn't much of an option because it's too pricey.

Try Comcast VOIP. I'm sure Comcast, my cable provider, would do a fine job. The rub: I have to depend more on one provider and I'm looking toward the exits on my cable broadband as Verizon lays fiber optic lines in my neighborhood. I'm planning to jump once FiOS and its 30 mbps come to town.

Use another VOIP provider. Skype comes to mind right away. The question: Is it really good enough to be second office line? I don't know as I haven't played with Skype all that much. With SkypeOut it could be. My first impression is that Skype ties me too much to my PC. Another practical issue: I can't tell many sources of mine to meet me on Skype.

What's truly surprising to me is that there aren't a lot of VOIP reviews available--at least from sources I recognize. Consumer Reports did a VOIP evaluation a little more than a year ago, but focused on Vonage, AT&T, Verizon, Cablevision and Comcast.

The mental hurdle I have with that cast of characters--I'd be required to consolidate services. Bundles are nice to a degree, but overall I'm wary. Meanwhile, this ZDNet poll below pushes me to other VOIP providers first.

[poll id=62] 

VOIP Review turns up a few names that sort of ring a bell. Those names: Sunrocket and Packet8 (I left off others because they didn't have more than 50 reviews on VOIPreview.org. Sunrocket has a four star rating out of five and seems to have some momentum. Packet8 has 3 stars, but a few reviews note the service is bad.

The rub with those reviews: I have no clarity on how credible VOIPreview is--I've never heard of it. My own network (CNET) doesn't seem to have reviews of VOIP providers. Other sites are also unknown to me. And I'm not trusting Google keyword buys to point me to a provider.

As this evaluation continues I plan on relying on some word of mouth referals, which means I'm going to email Russell Shaw right about now. The game at this point for me is narrowing my list down to a handful of VOIP providers that will be around for a few years--just in case Vonage isn't.

Topic: Unified Comms

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48 comments
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  • Me too

    I'm in the same boat, starting to looking for alternatives, so any help would be great. My last resort would be Comcast.
    TheHonestTruth
    • I may go with SunRocket, which got four out of five stars...

      I will do a readup in VoIPReview.com.

      I'm also a Vonage customer. I use a TTY (teletypewriter for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) with Vonage.
      Grayson Peddie
      • Ah! ".org..." Excuse my typo.

        Typosquatters! :(
        Grayson Peddie
      • I switched from Vonage to SunRocket

        I've been very happy with Vonage in all respects (price, features, service, reliability, sound quality) since I started using them in December 05. However, the court rulings convinced me that Vonage, while not dead (yet), is mortally wounded. I decided to jump ship and, like the author, was a bit dismayed at the VOIP reviews available. I finally settled on SunRocket, signed up two days ago, and am anxiously hoping it works out as well as Vonage did.

        Roy
        Roy.Faltesek
        • SunRocket versus Vonage

          My experience with SunRocket was very negative. Among many things poor customer service, lousy audio, line static and no ability to fax documents. I did not even use their service a month before canceling!
          Last month I switched from Verizon to Vonage [did not know of the Vonage legal problems] and I am very pleased with the quality of line parameters. After several bumpy service contacts I finally got an excellent tech that solved my all-in-one copier, printer, scanner and fax functionality.
          I hope that the legal issues get resolved because the only other game in my area is Verizon and after 11 years of being held captive to their bureaucratic service and high prices I don't feel like rejoining them. By the way they too tried to prevent me from porting my existing telephone number. After numerous lies about how they could not do it they finally agreed that they could and it got transferred.
          So Vonage lets get the issues settled!
          d_peters314
    • God, I just paid for a year in advance!

      Should have read the papers . . . Damn.
      Roger Ramjet
      • same here

        Been with Vonage almost 3 years now. I bought the 12-month deal in February. It was really 'too good to pass up' duh..

        With the forwarding options we have, I'm going to hold on til the bitter end. Surely they won't just go away overnight...

        Plus, it's amazing to look at my usage to see how LITTLE I actually use my home phone. If I don't have it for a week or so, it won't kill us.
        robertm2
      • I wouldn't worry as it will take longer to settle

        The legal issues will still be burning the midnight oil long after your contract as lawyers like to take their time as time is money so don't look for any quick settlements.
        intrepi
    • Vonage customers: Finding a new VOIP provider may be tricky

      if vonage goes , i will wait to see if all the ma bells attack the other voip serivces and entill then i will go with my net10 phone ,dont have all the extras vonage has but, im not going to go back to embark $100.00 a month with embark to have what i have with vonage.
      jackfred
    • New To Vonage

      I just signed up with Vonage last month. And I love all the features. Way more than my expensive Time Warner digital land line. I have been locked in with Time warner for cable TV, and digital phone and cable internet. I figured I would out smart them. They charge way too much for cable internet and phone so I dropped their phone and switched to Vonage. The savings helps pay for their over-priced internet.

      I just hope Vonage stays in business long enough to get my $100 rebate back for the adaptor and phone package. I have to be with them tow months to get it.
      limodriver179
    • Vonage Alternative

      I needed an alternative also and was approached by a friend who was a Rep. for ACN. I first joined the sevice and thought it was great at $23.99 a month. then became a Rep. All my friends and family are in my business getting digital and video phone service.
      If you want to learn more go to www.wealthinstituteinc.com
      I'd be more than happy to help you if you see anything you'd like topersue.
      Rich
      rjbond
    • The Best Vonage Alternative

      I needed an alternative also and was approached by a friend who was a Rep. for ACN. I first joined the sevice and thought it was great at $23.99 a month. then became a Rep. All my friends and family are in my business getting digital and video phone service.
      If you want to learn more go to www.wealthinstituteinc.com
      I'd be more than happy to help you if you see anything you'd like topersue.
      Rich
      rjbond
  • Skype is an excellent alternative

    I have found Skype to have quality every bit as good as Vonage with a few advantages....
    1. Skype is cheaper. I am paying around $30/year for unlimited outbound calling. My SkypeIN number costs about $36/year per number (I have two, one is in London and one is US).
    2. I use my laptop as my "mobile" VoIP phone. I have a Cisco iPhone for my wireless handset while at home.
    3. Skype offers integrated video.
    I may try some other SIP alternative at some point, but none I have found have had all the flexibility of Skype at anything close to the price.
    crash89
    • Skype Might be An Excellent Alternative but ....

      Skype has been a boon to some independence to my wheelchair-bound son. He has his own number for under $70 this year so that he can call whoever he wants whenever he wants.

      However, being a family man, reliable 911 service is a [b]must[/b]. Whenever anyone is my home or visiting my home picks up the phone, they cannot be concerned with "Is 911 available from this phone?". For my needs, VOIP consideration starts with how reliable is the 911 service.

      I am a Vonage customer and I'm concerned with the future of my telephony provider.
      thatpcguy
      • I couldn't agree more..

        In order for Skype to be a full-service replacement for a land line or Vonage, they need to facilitate 911 services. I hope they do that soon. They are an excellent service for everything else.
        crash89
    • Skype alternative

      With my D-Link Skype VoIP adapter and my Laptop computer I have almost eliminated any need I have for any kind of cellular access. The quality is quite acceptable and with WiMax the coverage is great. I use Skype in conjunction with regular phone but only to keep my local phone company happy as they are the primary DSL provider.
      ebiensch
  • GlobaLinx is a good alternative

    I'll be using globalinx from now on - i'm dumping vonage like a bad apple... http://www.5linxblog.com and http://www.5-linx.info both have links to more info on GlobaLinx - its a company that is based 50 miles from my house - and i've seen their offices. Not as big as vonage - but here for the long term - they have about 50k customers world wide.
    mjesales
  • Software Patents upheld Again !!

    Sure you'll have to find a new provider, but the bigger point is that yet again, a court has upheld the LAW and as software patents are LAW, patents won again.

    this is NOT a good sign for the likes of the FSF and stallman who believes they are entitled to defy software patents and IP rights.

    IMO: im glad of this ruling, becuase i for one dont like to see the FOSS movement acting like criminals, and FOSS/FSF defy the rights of patents and IP.

    good ruling, even if it causes some short term pain for a few users. for that im sorry, but your provider should of been more responsible, and worked within the law...
    Aussie_Troll
  • Microsoft MUST rule the SOFTWARE world!

    If you have ANYTHING to do with software (SAP. IBM and even HP) Microsoft is out to get you! They will stop at nothing less than total ownership of all bits and bytes!

    The danger is Real! The Danger is Microsoft!.....
    nomorems
    • What drivel is this?

      What kind of drivel is this? Totally unrelated to the original article. Must be a linux fanboy cutting back on his meds.
      Marty R. Milette