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Vonage Expands International Presence with Investments in Asia Pacific Region

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Vonage Customer Reviews
Salt Lake City: impressions after several months
Salt Lake City: impressions after several months



Review: My First Day With Vonage, Excellent!
Review: My First Day With Vonage, Excellent!



Great Price, No Complaints
Great Price, No Complaints



You need some common sense.
You need some common sense.



Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...
Vonage Customer Review: One month with Vonage, and...




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Federal Ruling On Web Calling


Vonage In Print News

Federal Ruling On Web Calling Is Expected To Aid Sector's Growth

November 9, 2004

By Anne Marie Squeo

WASHINGTON -- With new technologies rapidly redefining traditional phone service, federal regulators today are expected to shield emerging Internet-based phone calls from some state regulatory requirements, creating greater incentive for companies big and small to offer similar services.

At its monthly meeting, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve a request by Vonage Holdings Inc., a start-up company offering Internet phone plans to consumers, declaring it an interstate service, people familiar with the matter said. That would free Vonage, which has about 300,000 Internet phone lines in use, from numerous state telephone regulations, including certification to offer service, service-quality and reporting requirements, and contributing to state phone-subsidy programs.

"By being interstate, regulation will be exclusively federal," said Jeffrey Citron, chairman and chief executive of Vonage, based in Edison, N.J. "Today, a number of states have tried to assert local jurisdiction, and each has different local standards. That's incredibly problematic for a global company that doesn't know where its customers are at any given time." Vonage's service allows users to take their phone number with them no matter where they are in the world.

An FCC spokesman declined to comment on the agency's pending action.

While the decision relates to Vonage, FCC officials expect it to have broader applicability to other companies offering Internet phone services. That's potentially good news for the nation's largest phone and cable companies, including Verizon Communications Inc., AT&T Corp. and Cablevision Systems Corp., which are beginning to offer such calling plans to customers. (The decision could cause tumult in the wireless industry. See related article.)

Calls placed via the Internet are "inherently an interstate -- in fact, international -- service, and we hope the FCC recognizes that its technology and character cannot be managed on a state-by-state basis," said Susanne Guyer, senior vice president of regulatory affairs for Verizon.

AT&T spokeswoman Claudia Jones said, depending on how the FCC writes its order, the company expects its Internet phone-service plan CallVantage to experience the same regulatory freedom.

That's potentially devastating to state governments that have long played a pivotal role in overseeing telecom providers and that rely on fees levied on these firms for a variety of uses.

"The big concern is if other companies find a way to use this decision to characterize their traffic as interstate, and there are big incentives for them to do that," said Brad Ramsay, general counsel of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. About 24 states collect at least $1.9 billion a year for their own Universal Service plans, which subsidize rural phone service and Internet to schools nationwide. Mr. Ramsay said that pool would shrink considerably as customers began switching from traditional phone service to Internet-based plans.

The loss of revenue wouldn't necessarily be reflected on the bills of traditional phone customers, but it could lead states to boost other taxes such as income or property.

While the FCC decision doesn't say whether states can tax Internet phone service, legislation pending on Capitol Hill that seeks to extend a ban on taxing the Internet would address that issue.

FCC Chairman Michael Powell has been outspoken about the need to free emerging Internet technology from regulations created for the old Bell phone monopolies that no longer exist. Earlier this year, the FCC declared that calls placed over the Internet from one computer to another aren't subject to traditional telephone taxes and fees and AT&T couldn't avoid such fees by partially transporting some phone traffic over the Internet.

Next week, Vonage squares off against Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which had ordered it to comply with traditional phone regulations. In October 2003, a federal district court said state laws didn't apply to its service. State regulators appealed that decision.



 
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†AK and HI residents pay $29.95 shipping. ††Limited time offer. Valid for residents of the United States (&DC), 18 years or older, who open new accounts. Offer good while supplies last and only on new account activations. One kit per account/household. Offer cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or plans and is not applicable to past purchases. Good while supplies last. Allow up to 2 weeks for shipping. Other restrictions may apply.

1Unlimited calling and other services for all residential plans are based on normal residential, personal, non-commercial use. A combination of factors is used to determine abnormal use, including but not limited to: the number of unique numbers called, calls forwarded, minutes used and other factors. Subject to our Reasonable Use Policy and Terms of Service.

2Shipping and activation fees waived with 1-year agreement. An Early Termination Fee (with periodic pro-rated reductions) applies if service is terminated before the end of the first 12 months. Additional restrictions may apply. See Terms of Service for details.

HIGH SPEED INTERNET REQUIRED. †VALID FOR NEW LINES ONLY. RATES EXCLUDE INTERNET SERVICE, SURCHARGES, FEES AND TAXES. DEVICE MAY BE REFURBISHED. If you subscribe to plans with monthly minutes allotments, all call minutes placed from both from your home and registered ExtensionsTM phones will count toward your monthly minutes allotment. ExtensionsTM calls made from mobiles use airtime and may incur surcharges, depending on your mobile plan. Alarms, TTY and other systems may not be compatible. Vonage 911 service operates differently than traditional 911. See www.vonage.com/911 for details.

** Certain call types excluded.

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