Vonage’s outage and other problems are being widely reported in the media, though incorrectly attributing News.com for breaking the story. I think this is a clear sign, that the honeymoon phase of VoIP in general, and Vonage in specific is over. Vonage, equals VoIP in the market today. The company has over 200,000 paying customers, and has a major chunk of the paying market. It is seen as a defacto VoIP player and if things don’t got well with it, then the whole sector has a problem. One thing, I would like to point out that most of those who are suffering are early adopters of the company. Vonage’s problems are nothing new – a lot of readers on my site have complained in the past with service quality and outages. It had not garnered as much media attention for two reasons – this site is not a big media passing off tips collected from blogs as its own exclusive work and secondly most of us were early adopters and expected the pain.
I guess, with large scale outages, one does wonder how much of a patchwork quilt operation was Vonage really. The company was spending gazillions of dollars on marketing, though in reality some of that stuff would and should have been spent on building a redundant infrastructure. Andy made a comment saying that you should ask your VoIP provider about how dependable is their network. My question is do you normally ask SBC, hey, what kind of switch and redundancy you have. A consumer is not going to ask if someone rides the Level 3 network or Global Crossing’s creaking cables. They want to make a phone call. Vonage, and rest of the industry have sold VoIP as the “new phone.” I guess sites don’t do anyone any service when they rave about Vonage on the day there are massive scale outages – it sends a wrong kind of message.
Just like America Online mainstreamed the internet access business in the US, and brought in the neophytes the online nirvana, so far not a single company has turned itself into a consumer friendly service. Packet8 has a good service, except no one really knows about it. AT&T’s CallVantage might do the trick but it has not so far. Whether we like it or not, Vonage is the VoIP’s consumer face, and if it fails to live up to the hype, well then the whole sector is getting a black eye. I have often argued that however great these services maybe, the real impact is on the backend – where phone companies can really cut costs etc. Anyway hopefully we can see an end to these problems soon enough.
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