May 07, 2006

Vonage adds Some Nations - Why Not More?

Andy points out that Vonage has added unlimited calling to France, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the UK. This is good; but what is noteworthy is that they could have added a few more nations. If you look at the SkypeOut rates (for that matter, many of the other “Out” rates), all these countries have the same rates as calling within US. So from tariff perspective there is no difference whether you are calling within US or to these countries. I would imagine that adding these countries to unlimited calling will not dramatically increase the average minutes of use per month. So the real question is when will other countries be added to this list.

Alternatively, this is another time to ask whether flat rate is the preferred billing scheme from the consumers point of view.

Posted by aswath at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 02, 2006

Lucrative VoIP Business

You should be wary when I talk business. Nonetheless, after reading the recent analysis of Vonage’s IPO filing by Cynthia Brumfield, I wanted to highlight what we should be doing in VoIP.

First let me highlight some of the observations Brumfield makes, either explicitly or implicitly:

  1. The average revenue per line, the average direct cost of telephony services per line and the churn rate are flat since 2004.
  2. But the churn rate is very high.
  3. The gross additions and the net additions are growing at a good rate.
  4. But they come at a significant cost. The break even point is almost a year and by that time there is a 25% chance that the customer would have left.

My conclusion: A VoIP service provider must focus on reducing the churn and also increasing the average revenue. I am of the opinion that a simple way of doing this is by adding features and distinguishing the user experience from that of PSTN. We have to recognize that we are placing a computer (let us stop saying that ATA is not a PC, for IT IS) and also a Class 5 switch. This means all IN features and the objectives of TAPI can be realized. Indeed we can do more, because we can now add web to the mix. PhoneGnome and iotum recognize that and yesterday’s partnership announcement is an indication of that. More on that later. Today’s point is though that one can do a lot with that little computer VoIP service providers are giving away and not using it to benefit their subscriber.

Posted by aswath at 09:04 AM | Comments (1)

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