Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Vonage troubles

A few months ago I wrote about my troubles with Vonage and pretty much wrote them off due to the poor quality of their phone calls. But I also said that I wasn't about to cancel my service with them (and still haven't) because I love their features such as simultaneous ring, voicemail by email and being able to bring my phone anywhere in the world. In fact as I write this, I'm in the Philippines with my Vonage phone with me. Somehow I've been able to live with the poor call quality believing that sooner or later they will fix their problems as their technology continues to mature and our broadband networks become more efficient.

But it looks like they may not even get a chance to fix their poor quality problems. Verizon has won their case against Vonage for patent infringement and unless they can win their appeal, they may not be around by next year (Is Vonage's time running out?). Somehow part of me hopes that will not happen because Vonage has a lot of customers and I really believe VOIP is the way telephones should work in the first place. It's great for the consumers and it's also great for businesses. It's not great for telephone companies because it changes their entire business model.

A similar battle was fought a little more than 10 years ago between phone companies and internet service providers. Some internet service providers were driven out of business, but fortunately the phone companies learned that cheap and affordable internet was here to stay and look at how we can't live without it today. Now Vonage may suffer the fate of some of those early internet service providers and although that doesn't mean that VOIP will also die, it is unfortunate that the company that essentially put consumer VOIP on the map may not live to see the day when it eclipses old land line telephony.

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