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Post new topic   Reply to topic  Vonage® VoIP Forum - Vonage News, Reviews And Discussion » VoIP Feature Wish List
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milliman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 5:30 pm    Post subject: Is Vonage Just a POTS Replacement? Reply with quote Back to top

I wish Vonage would state whether or not their plan is to just strictly be a POTS replacement. Many of us signed up because we saw them as a higher value product over that provided by the RBOC. As early adopters, we assumed that they would continue to release new and innovative features. Now that they are mainstream, I am afraid that they are just becoming a "me too" service.

The services that we have still are buggy. For example voice mails received by e-mail from the PSTN still say "Outside Caller." We don't even have equivalents to the CLASS services offered by the RBOC such as Distinctive Ringing, ACR, and Speed Dialing. Forget more advanced services like setting incoming CID name, IM integration with presence, IM peering/interconnection, and IMS. Industry standard application servers and softswitches have many of these features out of the box. I would like to know what Louis' team is developing.

I know that it is hard rolling out a mass market service with over 1,100 Voip providers, Vonage better step up to the plate to differentiate itself. When the RBOC and MSO get their act together what will Vonage to do to counteract bundling? They better continue to be the innovator to reduce churn. On the business side, I recommend selling out to a mobile provider such as T-Mobile or even Sprint.

I have read many of the other postings and I assume that many of you will agree with my perspective.

Other thoughts?
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scerruti
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

In some respects you are correct. Citron states that the term "Broadband Phone Company" was chosen specifically to identify Vonage as a POTS replacement service.

The couter argument would note the availability of virtual numbers, soft phones and choice of area code all as features not available with POTS service.

Furthermore Vonage has publicly stated that their goal is to grow both in customers and geography and that is where their money is being spent. Vonage remains one of the leading online advertisers and is expanding in their existing territories as well as into new markets like Australia. Vonage could have structured their business to become profitable sooner but has decided that ultimate success requires having enough customers to compete with the RBOCs when they go digital.

I believe that the lack of new features has come from the combination of multiple sources. The success in obtaining new customers requires engineering to spend time scaling up existing processes. The desire to grow into new areas saps resources from development efforts. And the unplanned forced roll out of E911 services may also have had an impact.

That being said, Vonage will never have to be the leader in Voip features as long as it maintains its volume based price advantage. The true difficulties Vonage will experience in transition to a more fully featured Voip carrier are likely to arise directly out of their efforts to be a POTS replacement service. One example of where they may experience difficulty is in the tight coupling of accounts to phone numbers.

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CA1900
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

For me, I signed up as a POTS replacement, because Verizon was absolutely screwing me for local phone service. (Basic local service, plus caller ID and call waiting, was costing over $50 a month.)

I was planning on having no landline service in this apartment and using only my mobile phone, but poor coverage won't allow that here. The cell works, but it's a fringe area, so I needed something else. I had high-speed internet already through my cable company, and that's a must-have for me. So Vonage was a natural fit.

I'm a light user, and found the $14.99 500-minute plan absolutely ideal for my needs. It will save me well over $500 a year. I find the features pretty neat, but honestly, they weren't a deciding factor for me. Caller ID was really the only thing that was high on my list aside from basic connectivity. Even voicemail wasn't an issue; I have a machine.

So maybe I'm Vonage's target customer; I don't know. I just know I'm happy with my service. The cool extra features are just gravy for me. Very Happy
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alee
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Personally, I would pay Vonage the same $76/mo I ended up paying MCI if they allowed me to use my own equipment with my primary phone number. I recognize I'm the minority 5% or less that want this level of flexibility.

From a sales standpoint, there's probably more money right now in being a POTS replacement. However, IMHO, there is only limited glory being just a POTS replacement.

As Voip matures, more and more people will begin to understand the technology and start demanding things like SIP credentials, call filtering, and other more advanced features. They will understand Voip is all about multiple presence and soft switching. Voip gives us the flexibility of owning just 1 number and being anywhere in the world to answer these calls without needing to drag an ATA with you or the need to use kludgy hacks like SimulRing. All these things are possible natively with VoIP... just not on Vonage.

Vonage is fully capable of providing these features. In fact Vonage brags on and on about how they are using industry standard protocols. Yet, this same company is also telling us all bets are off if we try to use our own device. Companies like Broadvoice and VoicePulse may not be household names like Vonage, but they are really the ones that have taken the responsibility of educating the public that Voip is a lot more than using your old POT telephone over the Internet. Vonage should share in that responsibility.

It's probably still 4-5 years away, but Vonage will be left in the dust if they don't start giving us more features and more options. They will become a "me too" service if they don't actively educate the public about Voip and what it can really do.
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milliman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

Citron clearly stated that Vonage is a POTS replacement, but new market entrants are raising the bar. I applaud the introduction of E911 once it is here. Maybe Vonage would have provided it on their own without FCC prodding; maybe not. We'll never know. I do know the trials and tribulations they went through trying to get the RBOC to cooperate.

I hope they hurry up and find a buyer or do an IPO so they can get back to doing business. If my broadband provider can provide me greater reliability (an ATA with battery backup for example), more calling features, with a competitive calling plan, I'll switch especially if they offered a good bundled price. I was considering another NJ Voip company because of their features until I found out that they do not plan on offering E911. New market entrants are releasing their services with more features and capabilities. Some of them even have their own backbone network which will increase reliability and call quality.

Competitive forces will create winners and loosers. I just hope that Vonage has a strategy to remain a winner. With LNP, Voip churn rates can grow to that of the cellular market. Look at the rate Verizon, Sprint, and Cingular are cranking out new features. It is all in the name of reducing churn and increasing ARPU. I hope that Citron is watching the cellular industry more than his Voip competitors or the RBOC and MSO.
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milliman
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 22, 2005 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Back to top

I agree with alee. I just read a study today about SMB customers not caring so much about features but about price. The same is true with residential customers. They are fed up with paying RBOC $50 per month for POTS and some CLASS services. Vonage is accomplishing their goal of signing up these customers for less than $25 per month and will still obtain more customers using that marketing scheme. With major players like the MSO, AOL, and the RBOC in the market, customers have choice. Some of these players will add features like the ones people are requesting here. This changes the playing field for Vonage. I would gladly pay $5 more per month for Call Altering, Integrated Voice and E-Mail Inbox, CID Name on E-mails, Distinctive Ringing, and CID on my TV. And I will get it too from one of these guys probably without paying more.

I have heard Citron speak at VON a couple of times and he can tout standards all he wants but SIP is not SIP is not SIP. Every implementation varies a bit which makes releasing new features a challenge. What is also challenging is Vonage is doing most of their development in house. They should rely on the industry leading vendors to supply some of these features to reduce cost.

I have been an enthusastic Vonage supporter for the two plus years I have had their service, but I will not hesitate to switch if I feel that there is a better service that suits our needs. Just like Vonage, I can sign up for the service, check it out, and put in the request to transfer my number after I feel comfortable with the service.
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