Updated 6/13/2005: This post contains some updated information about, and corrections to, information about the Vonage-Linksys free router promotion announced Monday.
There's a lot of strategic insight behind today's announcement from Vonage and Linksys that they will be giving away Vonage-configured Linksys WRTP54G Wireless Broadband Router to new Vonage subscribers through July 23.
First, here is how the deal will work. You either go in to a Circuit City, Best Buy or CompUSA, and plunk down $129.99 for the router/access point device, or order the unit online on Amazon.com. If you buy the unit at one of those brick and mortar retailers, you get a rebate slip. The electronic equivalent of this rebate slip is produced via Amazon as well.
[Editor’s Note 6/13/2005: Information about the rebate offer corrected as a result of additional details received.]
Then, you go online and sign up for Vonage service. You are given a physical address to box up and return your existing wireless router- even if it is one of those old 802.11b models.
Weeks later, you get back a check for the $129.99 you spent. You'll receive a $10 rebate from Linksys, a $20 rebate from the participating retailer, and two separate $50 rebates from Vonage, 90 days into your service plan. Total=$130.00.
This is a good idea for several reasons. One, it expands the potential universe of VoIP customers beyond early adopter VoIP partisans to early and even front-edge mass market in-home and SOHO segment wireless network adopters. Sure, both technologies are not yet ubiquitous in the residential and SOHO setting, but there is enough non-overlap to have one feed off the other.
Second, the deal offers Wi-Fi access points rather than terminal adapters designed to hook up your regular phone into your broadband modem. While TA's are less pricey than routers, they do not provide the ability to tie in multiple computers to your VoIP connections. But with the access points, you'll be able to make a VoIP call from anywhere in your home or office.
Finally, the pricing is attractive. When I signed up for my Vonage service, I paid $129.99 for my WRTP54G, but received only a $50 rebate. Makes me wish I had waited.