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Other VoIP Providers Eager to Fill In for Vonage

By Robert Poe on April 23rd, 2007

If you're a Vonage customer, you're probably worried right now. Originally you may have chosen Vonage because it was the largest independent VoIP operator, which should also have made it the most stable. But its very size made it a fat target for Verizon's patent infringement suit. Now it could conceivably be out of business in a few days, and you could be stuck without phone service.

Fortunately, there are plenty of other independent VoIP providers ready to come to your rescue. They're already offering special deals to get your business, and they also want to tell you why they think their service is better than Vonage's anyway. Here's a sprinkling of what's available:

Packet8

Packet8 is waiving its $29.95 activation fee for customers switching from Vonage. It currently offers the first month's service free for all new customers, with adapter equipment to connect your standard phone to the Internet at no additional cost. But even if you weren't in danger of losing your Vonage service, Packet8 still thinks you should give them a try, particularly if you're a small business.

That's because Packet8 says the hosted IP PBX services they offer compare with those offered by sophisticated enterprise IP telephony systems. Huw Rees, VP of Marketing at Packet 8, says that Packet8's impressive technological foundation, illustrated by some 67 patents granted to parent company 8x8, should give it a strong position if Verizon decides to extend its patent litigation to a larger circle of VoIP providers.

Packet8 has seen a slight increase in queries from Vonage customers looking for a change in service. Because of its strong business offering, more defections are coming on the business side than on the consumer side, says Rees.

InPhonex

Like Packet8, InPhonex will waive activation fees for Vonage refugees. But unlike Packet8, InPhonex normally charges customers for the adapters used to connect their standard phones to the Internet. Still, they make an exception for Vonage customers, offering the option to trade in their equipment for credit towards an InPhonex adapter.

The advantages of InPhonex mainly involve its international reach, according to Chief Marketing Officer Todd Hirshorn. It does business in 150 countries, and lets customers take advantage of that fact. If you're one of them, it will provide you, at no extra charge, with 5 or more virtual phone numbers that friends or relatives overseas or across the country can dial to talk to you for the price of a local call.

Vonage's woes have been good for InPhonex's business too.

"We get called everyday by people saying they have a VoIP device they got at their local electronics store, and that tells us immediately it's probably a Vonage device," says Hirshorn. "We've been hearing more from Vonage customers in the recent past, especially since just before the injunction that told [Vonage] not to accept new customers."


Lingo

Lingo, like everyone, is also offering Vonage customers free activation and equipment shipping, which normally run $40. This comes on top of its popular promotion providing a choice of one month of free service, or 6 months at a reduced rate of $17.95, after which it rises to $21.95. Lingo claims their cost is far more reasonable than Vonage.

"Lingo has always been a lower priced alternative," says Marketing Director Jason Stricker. "We offer all the same features at a lower price, and often with better call quality." Lingo also includes calls to more places overseas in its basic monthly plan, says Stricker, including the U.S., Canada and 21 other countries.

Like InPhonex, Lingo has also seen a rise in new consumer prospects, thanks to Vonage.

"Everyone heard about the Vonage ruling a week or 2 ago," says Stricker. "We decided to actively go after these customers, and put together the best plan we could. The response rate is very high, and calls into sales lines have increased tremendously."


Other choices

SunRocket, another leading competitor, is making no special offers to Vonage customers, feeling that its $199 annual plan is value enough. It has, however, noticed a significant increase in queries and subscriptions from Vonage users, according to corporate communications VP Jeremy James. Upticks were particularly noticeable after the initial court judgment found Vonage guilty of three infringement counts, and after the injunction (stayed by an appeals court almost immediately) that said it couldn't sign up new customers.
There are plenty of other independent VoIP operators willing to take on Vonage customers. To find one in your area, this site is a good starting point. If you choose one, your main concern should be to make sure your new provider offers E911 service where you live. Otherwise, you may survive Vonage's next court date unscathed, but won't do as well when you trip getting out of bed the next morning.

See the original article on VoIP News