Thursday, March 31, 2005

Vonage Canada - 1 Year Here!

This afternoon (Thursday), I attended the very enjoyable open house at Vonage Canada's corporate offices in Mississauga, which is just west of Toronto. They were celebrating one year of service in Canada, and the mood was good.

Like Vonage in the US, they are positioning themselves now for a serious run to be the alternative broadband voice provider. They have a nice marketing theme targeting the broad consumer market, with the catchy tag line "I VoIP With Vonage". Lots of ads splashed on the walls with photos of all kinds of everyday people flashing a "V" with their fingers for Vonage.

The use of "VoIP" in the tag line seems at odds with most of the broadband VoIP marketing out there, which tends to focus on the service offering rather than the technology. It's early days yet, but I'd argue that the mass market - especially in Canada - is not familiar enough with the term VoIP to really know what it means, and how it relates to what they're using now for voice. I digress.

Spoke with Bill Rainey, their President, and Joe Parent, their VP of Mktg and BD. Not surprisingly, no one is saying how many subs, but they're "meeting expectations". Not sure what that really means, but Vonage is making the most noise in Canada about consumer VoIP among the pure plays. Primus Canada may have been first to market, but their profile has been lower, and I suspect they will not keep pace with Vonage Canada once things ramp up.

The good news is that Vonage Canada now offers LNP and 911, which of course are must-haves, especially to compete against the MSOs and ILECs, who are starting their moves.

As with the US, Vonage is pioneering the use of retail channels, and in Canada are partnering with Staples Business Depot, Radio Shack, as well as London Drugs in Western Canada. The message I'm hearing is that other large partnerships are in the works, and I wouldn't be surprised to see them launch deals with major branded outlets such as department stores or grocery stores.

Finally, as often is the case, interesting stories always seem to happen around things like this. The Canadian ILECs have been staying out of consumer VoIP until the CRTC clarifies its position, which right now is not sympathetic to the incumbents. However, in Quebec - where things like this tend to happen - Bell Canada suddenly announced VoIP service in three Quebec markets. This was not likely a ploy to steal Vonage's thunder - Canadians are far too polite!

Rather, this was a direct challenge to the CRTC, who the incumbents see as taking too long to reach a decision on VoIP. Quebec's major MSO is Videotron, and they recently launched VoIP on a small scale in South Montreal. Seems clear that Bell is saying they are not going to wait around for the CRTC while an MSO competes uncontested in their back yard. Now THAT is very un-Canadian, and indicates the state of unrest and uncertainly among those who want to bring VoIP to the market.

It will be very interesting to see what happens next now that the ball is in the CRTC's court. What would Michael Powell do?


ipcom said...

Posted by: Cody Willard

Rock on, Jon. Looking fwd to reading your blog.

ipcom said...

Posted by: don

I own a home in Mexico and spend the winter months there. Keeping in touch with family and business contacts has been a nightmare not to mention the high cost of using Telmex(mexican telephone company) long distance or my Rogers Cell. I will be subscribing to Vonage and will travel back and forth between the two locations, taking my vonage system with me. I can also use it in hotel (motels) that have internet or wireless connections. Eventually, I hope to "blow off" my telephone company (telus) along with their high costs and monopolistic attitudes.

Hooray for VOIP

ipcom said...

Posted by: Sevag Merdinian

Vonage customer Service is not professional and really BAD, i made the worng choice by leaving BELL And going to vonage. Vonage charges you for a full service 39.99$/month and no CALLER ID only the no appears, 1800 numbers 50% of the time you have to dial them 20 times, then maybe you can get to thru, Customer service they don;t know what do they talk about, my whole experience was really bad with VONAGE, i don't advise people to use it as their priamry phone and NEVER EVER, will buy something else from vonage.

it's been 3 month now with them and they keep telling me they are having technical problems, it will be resolved soon, they even charged me for a defected phone that i returned, 205$, it was a BIG fight and a hassle, to get my money back after spending everyday 3 hours minimum,on a weekly basis after 2 weeks, i got my money and it is good that i keep the tracking no of the shipment.
I really am fed up with this company and if i see a person who is even thinking to buy VONAGE i will 100% change his/her mind, i have the power to do that because i have good PR and my job lets me do that. I am a TECH 3rd level for a very respectable and known Broad band internet company.
I will even talk to my customers that have vonage and sabotage every single person's mind for NOT to buy vonage, They are not professionals @ all.

ipcom said...

Posted by: Jerry

I'm a recently retired, formerly self-employed, small business owner who still has a legal need to maintain a business telephone number. For the past three years I've used Primus as my VOIP provider, whose service I found to be hot and cold, becoming increasingly unreliable over the past year or so. Naively (now, it appears, stupidly) I allowed myself to be talked into switching to Vonage. And here I am - six weeks have passed - and I still don't have VOIP with Vonage! Most frustratingly, no one can give me a definitive date when I will have it. In all my years, I've never encountered such maddening incompetence! No one I've dealt with in their "Customer Care" department (the only department Vonage lets you deal with) seems able to understand and/or react to my appeals for urgent action. I've found their front-line bureacracy, with some employees being based in the Philippines, to be frustrating beyond belief. No one wants to elevate my complaints upwards, for fear it'll reflect on their own incompetence. If Vonage doesn't resolve my/their problems shortly, I'll be obliged to eat crow and return, hat in hand, to Primus, and I'll probably wish I'd never left. Unfortunately, I must have my corporate telephone number, which was a Primus number originally.

ipcom said...

Posted by: Sevag M.

I posted the previous comment about vonage in Posted by: Sevag Merdinian at May 13, 2007 11:25 AM. It is so funny that the problem they told me it will be resolved and their TECHS are working on it, didn't get resolved yet, are they bringing the TECHS from MARS? by CAR? i mean with VONAGE everything is possible.
The Caller id is still an on going issue, 1800 numbers are still dropping and cant get through, But i managed to lower my monthly service after a VERY VERY VERY big fight, to 31.99 Canadian Employee plan. I NEED MY CALLER ID. i want to know who is the caller, THE NAME, unfortunatly only the number appears. as a telephone quality voice line, meaning VOIP it is ok, because if you have the unlimited plan, you can call many countries for free and some with only 0.02 cents like europe. But still their TECH support sucks. THEY DONT KNOW WHAT ARE THEY DOING.