Thursday, September 14, 2006

SunRocket....Keep An Eye On This Broadband Phone Provider

Most folks obviously have heard of Vonage....the broadband phone provider with the annoying advertising jingle and currently the largest chunk of the North American residential VoIP phone market. Many know of Packet8 too who is the main choice for small and medium size business broadband phones as well as virtual office IP PBX systems. But....there's another player who is fast making in-roads particularly amongst residential broadband phone users. That player is relative newcomer named SunRocket.

I've done a bit of investigating to find out more about SunRocket so you can make a more educated choice on your options. Seems there's good reason why they're moving up the charts so fast.

SunRocket is a U.S.-based VOIP provider established in early 2004 by Joyce Dorris and Paul Erickson, former MCI executives who were coworkers for over ten years. SunRocket maintains primary offices in the United States and Canada, and outsources most telephone technical and sales support to the Philippines, Guam, and other nations with more cost-effective payroll demands.

Type: Incorporated

Founded: Early 2004 in Winchester, Virginia

Headquarters: Vienna, Virginia

Key people:
Paul Erickson - Chairman, Co-founder
Joyce Dorris - CMO, Co-founder
Lisa Hook - CEO
Mark Fedor: CTO

Industry: Communications services

Products: Voice over IP

Employees: 70+

Website: SunRocket

E911:

A frequent criticism of VoIP providers is that emergency telephone number service isn't available, because the physical location of a caller may not correspond to his or her listed phone number. SunRocket is compliant with FCC regulations mandating E911 capability, however the service requires subscribers to register their address with the company and, unless the subsriber is using a UPS for backup power, is not operative in the event of a power failure.

Link to SunRocket availability map

Link to SunRocket Forum - Unofficial SunRocket users group

BusinessWeek.com Review of SunRocket by Olga Kharif:

"I'd reviewed eight VoIP services in the past two months. And today, I played around with yet another service, SunRocket, which is growing in popularity. SunRocket is one of the cheapest -- if not the cheapest -- VoIP services around. For $199 a year (that's less than $17 a month), you get unlimited calling anywhere in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. The company's international calling rates are pretty low, compared with other VoIP providers, too: Each month, you can do $3 worth of international calling (it's included in your plan). Calls to China, for example, cost 3 cents a minute, which is quite low.

Better yet, even though SunRocket is cheap (most low-end VoIP services start at $19.95 a month), its set-up took, like, two minutes; normally, you have to spend two hours walking through the set-up with some help from tech support. And its quality and features are impressive.

The voice calling clarity and quality are about as good as a traditional phone's. And its features are as plentiful as those of many other services I've trialed.

I could block outbound international or 411 calls. I could block anonymous calls, or calls from specific numbers (the caller I blocked would get a busy signal). Enabling caller ID, and forwarding calls from all of my friends to another number when I don't pick up was a piece of cake.

Voicemail was very easy to configure through the SunRocket site. I could get my voicemails sent to my e-mail address as a Wav file (I got the e-mail virtually immediately after a voice mail was left). I couldn't record a greeting from the Web site, though, and it took me a little while to figure out how to record it over the phone.

SunRocket also offered one important extra that most other VoIP services charge for: You get a free additional phone number with each service. That can come in handy for families where a teenager wants to have his or her own line. When a call to that line comes through, your SunRocket phone can emit a different-sounding ring. The additional number also has its own voicemail box and its own set of features. The best part is, all of this stuff doesn't cost extra.

Now, moving on to a couple of things I didn't like about the service. First off, believe it or not, SunRocket's brochures say it can take up to 10 days since you activate the service for you to be able to receive inbound calls. Granted, I was able to get incoming calls right the way. Still, I've never heard of any other VoIP service companies saying that users might have to wait for up to 10 days for their service to start to work. That's a bit over the top, that.

Second annoyance: You only get to make two free directory assistance calls per month. Most other VoIP services make all 411 calls free. Lastly, I just need to mention that the first DSL adapter SunRocket sent me was defective. That said, the company had already discontinued that equipment line. And the new gear they sent me works like clockwork.

Overall, I'd say the service works pretty well."

So....now you know a bit more about the new kid on the block (relatively new anyway). Should you want to learn more details....or consider ordering SunRocket service....simply visit their website: SunRocket Broadband Phone.

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