August 2, 2004 11:12 AM PDT

VoIP provider Vonage suffers outage

Net phone service provider Vonage confirmed that it suffered its first outage in 18 months on Monday, blaming problems at partner Global Crossing.

But a Global Crossing representative said the company had investigated but found no problems involving "outages or routing issues on the Global Crossing network."

Customers could still receive calls, but a small percentage of Vonage's 200,000 total subscribers couldn't make outbound calls from around 7:45 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. PDT, at which time the problem was fixed, according to a Vonage representative.

The outage didn't sit well with at least one Vonage customer. Jay Ackerman was thinking about doing exactly what the company wants: dropping his traditional landline for Vonage's voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)-based service. Now, he said in an e-mail to CNET, he's not so sure.

"We discussed getting rid of our landline this weekend," he wrote after his phone service was restored. "We'll be holding off on that idea for now."

Vonage's Web site was knocked off the Internet during that time as well, because Global Crossing also hosts the site, according to a Vonage representative. Global Crossing had no immediate comment.

VoIP calls use the Internet rather than the heavily taxed traditional phone network. As a result, unlimited dialing plans are sometimes 80 percent cheaper than traditionally placed calls.

Although minor, the outage is a black eye for an industry that has worked hard to show that it's equal in reliability to the regular phone network. The incident underscores the risks of switching from the landline phone network, which, after a century of tinkering, claims 99.9 percent reliability.

VoIP requires a broadband connection; calls don't dial directly to 911; and if power to a home or office is lost, so is phone service.

Yet industry watcher Gartner believes that there will be a growing appetite for such services. The researcher predicts that VoIP will replace about 17 percent of North American phone lines by 2008.

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Vonage offers great prices and great features.
The sound quality is marginal and even often lacking especially when calling overseas.
Even local calls you will have to put up with the most ennoying echo of your own voice on the line.
But the worse is when sometimes you pick up your phone to answer a call and nothing happens (you only hear the echo of your own voice).d
If you have a problem and call service support be prepared.
First they will say it is your ISP's fault, etc... it is never their fault.
Then they will get you to run tests after tests and then they'll say they will call you back to check if the issue has been resolved and they never do. After you performed that litany of tests you think they will really tackle your issue but they don't. A new guy answers and ask you to run the tests again... I had to deal with that nonsence for more than 3 months. I am giving up...
Another word of caution once you signed in Vonage it will take very hard for you to get out too! I am still waitig and it's been three weeks. This is not my single experience I have had a couple of friends who went through the same nightmare.
Posted by Bis (1 comment )
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