CES - Vonage hopes new services will improve prospects

Vonage introduced a new router and new services at CES.

Troubled voice-over-IP service provider Vonage is rolling out new products and services at the Consumer Electronics Show in a bid to reverse its downward spiral.

Intellectual property lawsuits brought by Nortel, Verizon, Sprint and AT&T have distracted Vonage for the past year. During that time, customer acquisition slowed and defections grew to 3 percent in the third quarter last year.

But Vonage says it is ready to turn a corner. The suits were a weapon that the phone companies used to defend their businesses in the face of competition from Vonage, said Jeffrey Citron, chairman, chief strategist and interim CEO at Vonage. "It was a successful strategy. It distracted us and slowed us down," he said. "Instead of rolling out MyVonage six months ago, we were dealing with workarounds." MyVonage is the name of a new campaign at the company to introduce a host of services geared toward customer lifestyles.

While the lawsuits were ongoing, the company was developing workaround technology that would allow its business to move forward without infringing on the relevant patents. Vonage has now settled all four major lawsuits against it.

That has left Vonage free to spend more time focusing on its business, said Citron. It hired new engineers who designed a router, the first time Vonage will sell its own router rather than one from Cisco or Motorola.

The router has an unusual feature: a screen. It displays information about problems that the modem might have in plain language. For instance, rather than showing a flashing light like most routers, this one displays words telling users that the Ethernet cable is unplugged.

New customers will be able to buy the V-Portal router online starting Wednesday for US$9.99 after rebates.

In addition to the new router, Vonage is beginning to roll out many new features that it is showcasing at alpha.vonage.com. For instance, customers can now use voice-activated dialing, simply speaking a name to place a call. Customers can also send a voice message to anyone via e-mail. The message arrives as an attached audio file.

Call blast is a new feature that lets customers send out a voice mail simultaneously to a group of people. Citron anticipates that will be useful when he's in charge of calling 15 kids who go to school with his kids to tell them there is a snow day.

"We expect to roll out a new capability every month or two," Citron said.

Vonage also plans to offer another service that lets users access the voice recognition system from any phone to make a call through Vonage. The company is also testing software that would let customers make Vonage calls via software on their laptops.

Many of these services are free to Vonage customers.

Citron said that the future for Vonage will be brighter. Despite continued high churn, last quarter it had a gain of 77,000 customers, which he says isn't as good as it should be. The company has worked to cut costs, and improvements in customer service should help decrease customer losses, he said.

In the meantime, speculation continues to circle that the payouts Vonage made to settle the lawsuits will cripple it. But Citron was confident that the company's troubles are behind it.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nancy Gohring

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Bang and Olufsen Beosound Stage - Dolby Atmos Soundbar

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

ASUS ROG, ACRONYM partner for Special Edition Zephyrus G14

Learn more >

Nakamichi Delta 100 3-Way Hi Fi Speaker System

Learn more >

Sony WF-1000XM3 Wireless Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Learn more >

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean 9000 Toothbrush

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

SunnyBunny Snowflakes 20 LED Solar Powered Fairy String

Learn more >

Teac 7 inch Swivel Screen Portable DVD Player

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?