End of an (Vonage) Affair


Looks like media and consumer lover affair with Vonage might be on the rocks. Today there is a lot of buzz about Vonage being sued by Texas, the state, because the company “failed to clearly inform customers they cannot automatically dial 911 when they sign up.” The lawsuit stems from an incident last month, where a 17-year-old Houston girl could not call 911 on the Vonage phone, during an armed robbery when her parents were shot and wounded. She had to run next door to get some help. Look most of us geeks talk about e911 and all that crap, but average people don’t have a clue. Many times I have argued that if you are going to sell a PSTN replacement, you got to make it better than PSTN, and deliver on similar expectations. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott told AP, “No one who signs up for this service will get the same kind of 911 service they get with a regular land line. Vonage needs to be clear up front about that and not mislead their consumers about the quality of service.”


Om Malik

I totally agree – price is never the right indicator and when come down to it the quality should carry a little premium. oh well.

Steve Shu

Everyone give a lot of heat to the incumbent PSTN providers, and there’s good reason for that because people are looking at Skype, pre-paid international calling cards, and the like and coming to their own conclusions that the PSTN is not a good deal.

What people fail to understand is the PSTN was designed to handle a lot of things we take for granted, e.g.,
– 911 calls being nailed up to the operator position so you can’t hang up – can all VoIP providers do that – I don’t know
– what about power outages? the PSTN was designed to keep your phone powered during outages
– what about major disasters, e.g., bombs blowing up things? the PSTN was designed to handle these requirements
– what about traffic congestion and call gapping?
– what about FBI or authorities being able to wiretap under authorized situations, etc.

The list goes on and on, but all people care about is price until things go badly …

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