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Vonage VoIP Forum Digest - June 29, 2005

Vonage VoIP Forum Digest

June 29, 2005

By Daniel Connor

Welcome to today's edition of the Vonage Voip Forum Digest.

In today's issue, we'll look at how Vonage is handling 911 calls until a permanent solution is reached in time for the Federal Communications Commission's deadline to do so. Speaking of rulings, we'll read what Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron thinks about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that cable television broadband Internet service providers do not have to open up their networks to competitors. We'll review an article that describes a new way that you can use your Vonage connection over cordless phones. A blog item that suggests companies like Vonage offered pre-paid Voip minutes gets our look-see. We'll also tell you about an article in which a traveling consultant was able to use his Vonage service from a most unlikely location. Finally, we'll look at a popular new Vonage Voip Forum thread on how some of you are planning to use your Vonage from the road over the forthcoming Fourth of July weekend.

In The Headlines

How Vonage Is Handling 911 Calls: For Now

Many subscribers have received letters from Vonage informing them of an interim solution for routing "911" emergency calls. These calls are now being routed to a 24-hour service center that works similar to the always-available OnStar service General Motors uses for its vehicle owners. The calls are routed to a company called TCS, where an agent helps the caller obtain local help. Vonage says that within the last two weeks, more than 500 "911" calls placed over its lines have been answered that otherwise would not have been connected.

Vonage CEO's Thoughts On Supreme Court's Broadband Access Ruling

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that broadband Internet service providers - such as Comcast - do not have to open their lines to competing services. Although the ruling does not directly affect Vonage and other Voip access providers, the ruling has an indirect impact in at least two ways. Many Vonage subscribers use broadband services such as Comcast to transport their calls. Also, there have been some concerns that in the light of this favorable ruling, Comcast and some other providers might be emboldened to exercise their newfound power by "port blocking" attempts by Vonage subscribers to use their network to complete Voip calls.

Yesterday, columnist David Ewalt asked Vonage CEO Jeffrey Citron if the company is concerned this might happen.

According to the article, Citron "says he's not particularly worried about widespread port blocking, but acknowledges that the risk 'has obviously moved up a bit.' He expects the FCC to continue to discourage port blocking and anticipates future legislation that will make it explicitly illegal across all kinds of networks.

"Besides," Ewalt points out, "the (Supreme Court) decision actually helps Voip providers, says Citron, by strengthening the position that they are not a telecommunications service and, therefore, should not be subject to the same rules, taxes and fees as traditional phone calls."

Ready To Use Vonage With A Cordless Phone System?

An article we've read in the new issue of Men's Edge magazine does a good job explaining the virtues of Vonage and VTech's new broadband, 5.8 Ghz cordless phone system. The inexpensive system costs less than $100, plugs directly into your broadband connector or router, and supports up to four handsets. Want more details? We've posted a copy of the article here.

Voip Blogger Would Like to See Pre-Paid Voip Minutes

In an interesting new post, ZDNet IP Telephony blogger Russell Shaw (an excellent blog!) suggests that Vonage and competitors offer pre-paid Voip minutes to non-subscribers. This would be similar to some pre-paid cell phone plans, as well as to Skype's SkypeOut service. Shaw suggests that such a service "would be a good introduction to Voip for those who might want to tip their toe into the water - but don't want to buy the requisite equipment, pay a connection fee, and then sign up for a monthly plan."

This service might work on Vonage's SoftPhone service.

My guess is that you probably know people who haven't yet signed on to Vonage because they do not want to buy the equipment, or because they are a bit unfamiliar with what Vonage (and VoIP) are. If pre-paid Vonage minutes were to become available, would you try and convince these people to try such a deal? Let's get a thread going on this subject.

Connecting To Vonage From A Hotel Room In...

In a fascinating piece on the CBS News website, technology columnist and consultant Larry Magid describes how he's been using his Vonage Internet phone adapter and his hotel room Ethernet connections to make Vonage calls from Cairo, Egypt.

"The Vonage service doesn't know or care that I'm in Egypt," Magid writes. "All they know is that the adapter is connected to the Internet. Regular long-distance calls to and from the Middle East tend to be considerably more expensive than calls to many other regions of the world, so I'm saving a lot of money using Vonage from here."

And speaking of connecting to your Vonage account from the road...

On The Vonage Voip Forum

Last night -with my mind on the fast-approaching Fourth of July weekend- I started a Vonage Voip Forum thread called How will you be using your Vonage on the road this holiday? Forum Member tommy13v says he will bring his Vonage router to his lakeside cabin in Lake Placid, N.Y. Fellow Forum Member trowski will be carrying his router with him to Hawaii. Trowski says that although he knows this trip will be a vacation, he's taking along his Vonage equipment because he's "interested to see how it works."

Will you be taking your Vonage equipment (or even your notebook PC loaded with Vonage SoftPhone) with you over the Fourth of July weekend? Visit the thread (linked above), click "post reply," and tell us all about your plans.

That's what's hot about Vonage today. Check with us tomorrow for the next edition of the Vonage Voip Forum Digest!!

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