The only people who want Vonage to go out of business are the hopeless telcos who fear that its model might be superior to theirs in one mortally horrifying respect – subscribers like it. And we can’t have that, can we?
Not everybody in the world of Web 2.0 gets a good press, as investors in VoIP outfit Vonage will attest. Only this week, analysts have put their boot back into a company that has had to contend with a series of mishaps, ranging from lawsuits by US rivals Sprint and Verizon over the technology it uses, to doubts over its long-term ability to attract profitable subscribers, and even the price of its IPO.
The frustrating element of all this is that few bother to ask the people who should count – the subscribers – to see what they think. I don’t have shares in Vonage, but I have been a subscriber for a year now and have never regretted it. It is a cheap (matched only by Skype), effective means of getting a second line into home or office for voice or fax, involving nothing more complicated than plugging a small box of VoIP magic into a port on a LAN switch, and waiting for the dial tone. You can even have non-geographic numbers on the cheap. How long did we wait for that from BT?
In the UK, the company has put together some innovative local, national and international calling packages that beat anything bloated rivals such as BT or the other me-too VoIP companies have come up with. Vonage is the startup that feels like a much bigger company, without the baggage of hating its users as most former telecoms companies secretly seem to.
The quality isn’t as good as with a PSTN, but that’s a technological affliction not a Vonage one. But even here, Vonage is often reckoned to be better than any of its rivals, and it has certainly been reliable.
Verizon and Sprint will look on in delight at the company’s falling stock, though God knows why anyone at a telecom company has the right to feel gleeful about anything defies me. They have hardly delivered on their promises, while at least Vonage has tried.
If Vonage goes out of business as the analysts claim, it will be a great day for the former-telcos, but another rotten one for ordinary people who just want decent voice services at a decent price.
My hope is that someone will see the quality of the services, and buy it. That’s the only reason that Skype flourished – once under the wing of eBay it was too big to hit with obstructive lawsuits. The one thing telcos understand is size. "Big” was always the most fearful that could ever be said about any of the telecoms companies during the grand age of PSTN bloat.