Cell Phone Carriers are Evil

Several months ago I wrote about an evil cell phone carrier. In a nut shell I went over my minutes (only time I ever did) and they charged me an extra $70. To get the specifics you can read my post Cell Phones vs. VoIP.

Well it has been a while since that incident and I thought I’d give a quick follow up. My wife and I got VoIP installed quickly after. I mean, you really can’t beat unlimited calls for $24.99/month. We also switched cell phone carriers out of ire. Guess how many problems we’ve had with VoIP so far. Zero.

As a matter of fact, since we make so many calls from home as opposed to on the run, we were able to downsize our cell phone plan. Now between the two of us, we’re only using about 300 minutes a month on our cells. VoIP has allowed us to significantly cut down our phone bills.

I highly recommend getting a Vonage home line to anybody that want to cut down cell phone usage. It saves a lot of money and hassle with robotic cell phone carrier customer representatives.

Cell Phones vs VoIP

I recently moved into a new apartment with my wife (we just got married a few months ago). We each have a different cell phone carrier and we are both still under contract. I do not use the phone very often and neither does she, so we figured we’d live on our cell phones until we buy a house in a year or so, then we would install Vonage.

Well, let me take a minute to tell you what a terrible idea that was. I received a phone call from my evil cell phone carrier the other day. I’ll leave them nameless because they truly are evil, and in an already suffering economy, I don’t want my very important opinion to bankrupt this company. The lady on the phone told me that I was about to reach my monthly limit which was astonishing to me! She informed me that there was a $.45 per minute charge which I already knew.

Then she said, “Let me pull up your account.” She pulled it up and stated that I was actually already 100 minutes over my monthly limit. As if that weren’t bad enough, she then persisted to try to get me to upgrade my phone plan so it wouldn’t happen again. This isn’t the first time they’ve done this either.

So the phone bill rolls in. What usually costs me $55 a months was $121! What a rip off. I was actually in such disbelief that I downloaded a spreadsheet of all my calls and did some analysis on it. I found that a lot of my longer calls were actually from home. If I had Vonage Unlimited, I would have paid significantly less this month in overall phone bills.

After doing some spreadsheet analysis I learned that a large amount of my phone calls we 2 minute phone calls. Usually when I make a call I go right over a minute. Doing this a few times a day adds up quick since 1 minute and 1 second is a 2 minute call. As a systems major I know that it would be extremely easy to track each call in minutes and seconds then add everything up for the monthly bill, but the truth is, cell phone companies hate you. I can’t wait to get VoIP.

Ironically enough, my cell phone company sued Vonage a few years ago. Conspiracy?

Vonage Names New CEO

At the end of July, Vonage named a new CEO.  The man for the job is former Cingular Wireless Chief Marketing Officer Marc Lefar.  Now at age 44, Lefar will take over the executive officer spot for Jeffery Citron, Vonage founder and chairman.

Citron will still stay active in the company, but will be handing off a lot of repsonsibilities to Lefar.  Lefar has a lot of hard work ahead of him.  He will be working mostly on Vonage’s long term plan now that the company is out of hot water.

The hope is that Lefar’s marketing knowledge and prior experience in the same field will aid the company in improving its marketing strategy without heavily increasing the cost of advertising.

A Blurb About Vonage and Verizon

We all remember the 2007 patent infringement lawsuit between Vonage and Verizon.  Verizon raised the suit against Vonage over an issue of 7 patents and the court ruling was harsh, even preventing Vonage from signing up new customers.  An appeal from Vonage to this decision greatly reduced the severity of this ruling and got Vonage rolling again.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Vonage asked a federal appeals court for a reconsideration of the ruling which upheld most of the charges of patent infringment.  This means that another settlement is possible.

It was a tough year for Vonage in 2007, most of it being spent in the courtroom.  In 2008 they have been wise in the fact that they have made smart finacing decisions and are still trying to get rid of some of the lawsuit debt.

New E911 Internet Law

Early on in the VoIP industry, there were issues with 911 calling.  With no hard fixed location to trace, 911 callers would have to explain exactly where they were in order for any emergency personnel to be able to find them.  This was a pretty unfortunate con to voice over internet protocol phone service.

Fortunately, there have been several improvements made to correct this problem.  E911 has made it possible to make effective 911 to be made and tracked.  Unfortunately, there are many places that still do not have E911 capabilities meaning there are still several places that are vulnerable when it comes to calling emergency services.

Last week, President Bush signed a bill into law that calls for all VoIP companies to offer service that has the same 911 capabilities as regular phone service.  This will make VoIP 911 equal to regular 911 in it’s ability an reliability.  With a service that is slowing replacing traditional telephone, it is important to ensure that it is as safe as possible.

Perhaps the next big problem to solve will be the power loss issue.  There are already VoIP backup batteries, but something will have to be done for all VoIP customers sooner or later.

Vonage Commercials

I think just about everyone here has seen at least a few Vonage commercials.  There was the beach commercial, and who could forget the hilarious geek and super model in sports car commercial.

Vonage’s commercials have had a different effect on many people.  Some people are somewhat offended by some of them, but the bottom line is that they are pretty funny and downright effective advertising.  Aside from the funny concept behind every commercial, we are all reminded of the Vonage theme song.   This memorable tune just glues itself to the minds of everyone who hears it.

These effective Vonage commercials have been a large factor in the success of building their large customer base.  All that said and done, Vonage has somewhat shifted their perspective and started to make a few “information based” commercials that inform more about the details of some of their new products.  Vonage, although they have cut back on advertising costs, continues to diversify the ways in which they do advertise and the company continues to grow under this trend.

Vonage’s Second Quarter

Vonage continued to grow in the second quarter of 2008.  The quarterly report showed revenue growth of 11% equaling a total of $227.5 million.  This is great news for Vonage, especially considering how things we’re going last year at this time.

Vonage has cut back heavily on TV advertising in order to decease spending or dedicate more to the development of new features and services.  Although advertising was down, Vonage still up to a very large 2.6 million customers.

With a heavy turnover rate, Vonage’s top priority now is to better relations with their customers.  Perhaps even more important than adding large amounts of customers in the third quarter is to make sure that they don’t lose as many as in Q2.  In order to achieve this, Vonage continues to increase the quality customer support and make it more convenient.

Vonage Broadband

That’s right. Vonage will finally be expanding its product line with what will be known as Vonage Broadband. Vonage hopes to offer this new service to new and existing customers sometime around the end of this year.

What is happening is Vonage is teaming up with Covad. Vonage will offer DSL service through Covad’s nationwide network. This will benefit Covad in the aspect that people are familiar with the Vonage name. Many people have actually already expressed a desire for Vonage to offer a high speed internet service.

Vonage is constantly looking into acting upon their customer’s desires, and are now even looking into developing a wireless service.

Covad in the past has specialized in offering their services to businesses. This partnership with Vonage will enable them to expand their target audience since Vonage’s customer base is heavily residential. It will be a good move for both companies enabling them to mutually benefit each other. Vonage Broadband will offer services of up to 3Mbps and 6Mbps.

Pricing has not yet been revealed, but is promised to be released in the near future.

Vonage for Your Small Business

There are many benefits that come from using a Vonage Small Business Plan as your small business’ phone service. The first of course is price. Having to make long distance calls everyday for your business’ needs can add up extremely fast. With Vonage, long distance doesn’t exist. Calls can be made anywhere in the US, Canada, or Puerto Rico.

Vonage also offers very low international rates. Some countries even have free international rates! Recently, Vonage rolled out unlimited international calling plans so you don’t even have to worry about paying international rates.

Maybe one of the best reasons to use Vonage is that if you move, you can keep the same number. Even if you don’t stay local, you can still maintain the same number all of your clients already have and it will still be local to those to whom it was already local. It is also very easy to add extra lines. These are just a few reasons why Vonage’s Small Business Plans are the perfect solution to your business’ communication needs.

1st Quarter Earnings

Vonage has announced that it’s first quarter’s numbers (ending March 31, 2008) will be released later this week. This Thursday (May 8, 2008) management will make their numbers public.

There will also be a webcast the same day at 10am (EST) in the which management will discuss the first quarter performance. With recent events that have taken place in the corporate side of the company, numbers are expected to be strong.

It is also likely that the recent refinancing of Vonage’s debts will be discussed. It was viewed as a large step forward for Vonage’s financial future.