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Summary:

Vonage’s persistent outages, and the problems being experienced by some of AT&T’s CallVantage customers show that VoIP still is an inexact science, its promoters’ utopian visions notwithstanding. AT&T customers are finding that some cable providers are shutting down Port 69 as a preventive measure against viruses […]

Vonage’s persistent outages, and the problems being experienced by some of AT&T’s CallVantage customers show that VoIP still is an inexact science, its promoters’ utopian visions notwithstanding. AT&T customers are finding that some cable providers are shutting down Port 69 as a preventive measure against viruses and worms. These outages are part of the maturing process of any technology, and are expected. However, since we do depend on voice communications quite a bit, these outages and bring upon the ire of consumers, especially those who are not early adopters. I guess, Bells would be using this as a marketing tool to combat VoIP encroachment of their local business. I frankly cannot take the risk of not having at least one dependable phone service. At present both voice lines I have – Internet Voice (Vonage) and Wireless Voice (T-Mobile) – are undependable. Scratch that – totally dependable. VoIP providers need to go beyond the $19.95 flat rate plans and have to assure “mass market” consumers of their durability and reliability.

  1. Anticipated port blocking behavior is the reason I argued (http://www.fcc.gov/voip/comments/AswathRao.pdf, para 4) that ISPs need to be regulated in some fashion. Recently FCC has recognized in CALEA NPRM that ISPs are ’Äúa replacement for a substantial portion of the local exchange service’Äù. They made this statement only in the context of CALEA. I am advocating that we should keep this in mind in a wider context. That is why I suggest that some of the regulations applied to PSTN service providers must be applied to ISPs as well. One such is non-discrimination of applications. Some ten years back, RBOCs wanted to charge extra for modem calls and they were prohibited. Those who would like to protect the interests of consumers in the new telecom world must NOT be categorically opposed to regulating ISPs and VoIP providers.

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  2. Outages like Vonage is having are to be expected, but not appreciated. With growth comes growing pains. Experience in a carrier is what one needs to look for, and a network that is fully redundant, fault tolerant. One has to ask, does your voip carrier have that?

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  3. Andy and all, interesting comments, but these would not make any sense to a cab driver in New York who hears the “unlimited” calling plan on the local news radio, and signs-up. what does he care about redundancy – he needs to experience the same phone service he is used to.

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  4. Vonage always down gives the others in the VOIP Arena a ”black eye” !!!!!!!! When will Vonage dump lousy Global Crossing bandaided Backbone and switch to Level3 built from the ground up ALL IP???????????

    http://www.dslreports.com/forum/remark,11032185~mode=flat

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  5. No…the op-ed people give VOIP a black eye because with all the players you focus on the highly touted Vonage as if they are the prim and perfect. If you’d take a look further into the food chain you wouldn’t pop off like you were selling pop-tarts!!….Packet8 and others using cutting edge technologies through and through are not experiencing outages. Vonage and T are piecemealing their front and back ends so it is only natural that they would suffer outages…you op-ed people need to get a grip on what you’re writing about!!

    :0=

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  6. What’s puzzling to me is how many of the data folks are trying to rationalize VoIP outages as something that is to be expected. Although we are accustomed to outages and lag with data-centric applications (browsing websites, querying databases, etc.), ma and pa telecom consumer won’t stand for it. They are accustomed to picking up the phone and hearing a dial tone. Can you blame them?

    If the consumer (well, and I guess business) VoIP providers and carriers don’t create a bulletproof infrastructure, then I believe that VoIP offerings will be relegated to non-mission critical telephony applications. That’s not good for any of the infrastructure equipment providers as it limits growth in the market.

    It’Äôs unfortunate that so many people are fine with ’Äúgood enough,’Äù when we should be demanding a reliable infrastructure where an outage is a rarity on par with a telephone network outage following a hurricane.

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  7. COVAD has figured out ”’Quality of Service”” and IS going with Level3………too bad Vonage cannot figure out people will NOT continue to pay for service when it does NOT work 100% of the time!

    Article posted today.

    >

    http://www.eweek.com/article2/0,1759,1635210,00.asp

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  8. Port 69 versus Outage issue clarification

    I don’t view the Vonage service outage and port 69 blocking (why did they pick that number) as similar.

    Here’s how I view them.

    When Nextel first arrived on the scene as a wireless carrier, their service was available in some places but not all. If I chose Nextel as my carrier it meant that in certain parts of the USA my cell service might not always work. The same was true for Sprint (and still is) when the rolled out CDMA vs. Analog and TDMA.

    With a service that uses Port 69 (CallVantage for one that I know of) if the carrier block the port, this is the equivilant of Nextel not having service in that area.

    Now lets look at Outages.

    An outage means the customer has service working, but there are interuptions or lack of the ability to complete a call (inbound or outbound). This is no different than the DSL provider losing connectivity or a cell carrier’s cell site going down, something I experience a week or so back with T-Mobile.

    Thus this matter really gets into the aspect of operation definition of the word outage versus service availability.

    I think the beter way to approach this is using the idea of “Issues” versus “problems.” People who can’t get VoIP service because their broadband provider is blocking a port have an issue.

    People who have service that keeps going down have a problem.

    For the people with a carrier caused Port 69 issue it means, no service. That’s an issue. For the people who have service with Vonage and the service goes down, thats an outage, which is a problem.

    Hope this helps.

    Andy Abramson
    http://andyabramson.blogs.com/voipwatch/

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  9. One more comment…to the person saying T (meaning AT&T) are patching together a network…what FUD.

    AT&T uses their own managed network. It is not a patchwork of networks. I wish there was a way to comment on the comments…..

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  10. I appreciate this chat forum, and would like to introduce another company that has decided to go from wholesaling to retailing, with the marketers receiving great compensation for advertising. A PERFECT way to market VoIP!

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  11. I have a four week nightmare going on with AT&T. I cannot stand one more day with this company and their incompetent reps. I keep being promised the world, yet every single time they promise something, or give me a date to expect something, it’s at least a day late and usually TWO DAYS late!

    I signed up for AT&T’s callvantage service by calling in. I first went to their website to check and see if my phone number could be transferred to their network (ported over) and it gave me an affirmative answer. This made AT&T more attractive than Vonage. Yes, Vonage was a few bucks cheaper, but for us to be able to keep our existing number certainly tipped the scale. Plus I’d read enough to know that AT&T’s call quality was good, if not a little better than Vonage’s.

    Well, after two weeks of not being able to receive phone calls, I finally blew a gasket and demaned to speak with someone who could get me answers! I didn’t want to hear one more operator tell me they knew of the problem, tech support was working on it, but they couldn’t tell me when it would be fixed! (holy crap batman, they used that line on me for almost a week)! Anyway, after getting a supervisor on it, he did a little investigating. Apparently, my phone number ISN’T able to be ported to their network after all. Ok, by this time it’s been three weeks, we just want it to work.

    They sent us a Linksys TA to keep us happy as the Dlink wouldn’t play nice with the rest of my equipment. Well, when I got it all hooked up, their was music on the line. Keep in mind, this is a brand new house. It didn’t play music with the DLink.

    I called again, of couse after being on hold for 45 minutes I got fed up and hung up. I’m now stuck. We can’t get the DLink to work behind my server (Windows 2003 Small Business Server) and if we put up the Linksys (which won’t work behind the server either) it’ll play music!

    Apparently, the Linksys has the number burned into the router. So, we can’t use the DLink anylonger!

    It’s now been 4 fricking weeks and they keep blowing us off. I’m thinking of making them send a technician out here and make sure my fricking setup is good. I’m not going to spend another 5 minutes on the line with some idiot from AT&T that know’s barely half as much as I when it comes to networks!

    If you are thinking of AT&T, and you go with them after reading this complaint, DO NOT GET RID OF YOUR POTS LINE!!! I guarantee you will have major problems within three days of your service! I guarantee!

    I’m getting out of their grip as soon as Monday hits! They are the worst excuse for a professional orgainzation as any I’ve ever encountered!!

    DON’T GO WITH AT&T. If you do, prepare for me to tell you I told you so – cause they can’t do ANYTHING RIGHT!!

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  12. I wish I had read Scott La Plant’s comments before I signed on with Callvantage.

    Although I am not having the hardware problems he is encountering, I am having problems receiving calls (my next door neighbor for one). Then last night we lost dial tone for 4 hours.

    Also, like Scott, we have spent countless hours on the phone, on hold for 45 minutes at a time, waiting to speak with customer service reps who assure us that tech support is working on the problem. The reps plead with us to be patient, the problem will be fixed shortly. Then when we call back the next day to check the status of our problem we find the trouble ticket has been closed even though the problem hasn’t been resolved.

    Well it’s been 3 weeks now and we are still missing who knows how many incoming calls.

    ATT’s Callvantage (or maybe just VOIP) is definitely not ready for prime time!

    Unfortunately it will take 15 days to switch back to POTS. My advise to anyone thinking about going VOIP is don’t cancel your regular phone service until you have lived with VOIP long enough to be sure it will satisfy your requirements. Caveat Emptor!!

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