Vonage’s Success

The Register writes:

For those that aren’t familiar with the Vonage proposition, it is simple. Consumers sign up for unlimited calls across the US and Canada for just $29.99 (it’s just gone down to $24.99) and select some kind of self installable SIP devices. It can sit in front of existing phones and attach to the broadband line or it can be a softphone (a phone in software) that links through a PC or even a Linksys router with special Vonage software.

SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol and has been endorsed by the IETF, the 3GPP, the Softswitch Consortium and by Cable Labs’ Packet Cable group, to name but a few and it originally hailed from work at Columbia University and came to fruition almost a full five years ago.

SIP is nothing more than a way of packaging voice into internet packets so that all the data is there to carry out basic telephony functions through proxy servers and softswitches. It needs to identify the type of traffic, the caller, the person being called, carry the number of the caller, re-route to new addresses, negotiate what to do at termination, offer authentication where required and handle call transfers.

More advanced services such as conferencing, and fax delivery need to be supported and all of this function needs to be described in a way that internet services will understand. It’s a protocol that the big US local phone companies, the RBOCs, wish would just go away. But they have increasingly taken the view that if you can’t beat them, join them, and begun offering similar, competitive services.

We got a chance this week to ask Louis Holder, EVP of product development at Vonage…”The key to the service is the web dashboard that we give to consumers and SoHo customers to configure their service,” he says. “It gives a customer all the things that advanced telephone systems can do, which were usually denied consumers, like viewing your call record including incoming as well as outgoing calls, managing voice messages, routing calls to your cellphone.” The service also allows a customer to control billing online for international calling and pay bills online.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.