Thursday, May 31, 2007

Vonage's New Campaign

It just keeps getting better. Vonage customers recently received the following email from the company.

Dear Vonage Customer:

Vonage invites you to be among the first to join a new grassroots campaign aimed at preserving your right to choose your phone service. We’re launching a national movement – Free to Compete – because we believe marketplace competition is good, and we want consumers to have a choice. To learn the facts and find out how you can help preserve competition and your right to choose your phone service, please visit FreeToCompete.com.

Since the day we opened our doors, our mission has been to provide consumers with an alternative to the services offered by entrenched landline phone providers. In our five short years, we've gone head-to-head with many of these industry giants, and amassed 2.4 million customer lines with our innovative technology, cool features and value pricing.

You may have heard that Verizon® is suing us over patents they say we violated. Verizon has pursued litigation against Vonage in an effort to achieve in court what it cannot achieve in the marketplace. The suit could result in limiting competition and consumers' freedom to choose a communications provider, which could ultimately drive up the cost of phone service. Vonage will continue fighting this attempt to limit your choice, while ensuring that you continue to receive the reliable, quality service you've come to expect.

As our customers, you are the most passionate and effective spokespeople we have. Let your voice be heard by visiting FreeToCompete.com where you can:

1. Send an email to Verizon telling them you support Vonage
as they defend your right to a better phone service
2. Sign our Petition
3. Learn the facts of the case
4. Spread the word

We hope you'll join us in taking up this important challenge by visiting FreeToCompete.com. Together, let's move the battle for free competition and choice in the phone industry out of the courts and back into the marketplace!

And thank you for choosing Vonage.

Regards,

Jeffrey Citron
Chairman, Interim CEO and Chief Strategist


"Send an email to Verizon telling them you support Vonage as they defend your right to a better phone service."

There's an oxymoron if ever I heard one. the only reason they have any customers is because they are cheap, certainly not because they provide better service. When they realize they will have to pay the piper like the real phone companies they squeal like pigs.

I'm no big fan of Verizon, but I'm certain that they are enjoying this desperate and distasteful tactic by Vonage. For a company to invite it's customer base to directly participate in it's legal quarrels, regardless of who is right or wrong, is what I would characterize as bashing your competitors. Vonage needs to keep this in their conference rooms and in the courtroom, and far away from their customers.

I havent seen too many Vonage commercials since this came to light either. I wonder if it is court ordered not to run commercials...

That certainly would make sense. If there is the strong possibility they may go under they shouldn't be allowed to take any more than they already have down with them.

Personally I suggest current Vonage customers...and ANYONE looking for a Vonage type service....consider other options.

Here's 2 I highly recommend:

Packet 8

SunRocket


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Monday, May 28, 2007

Palm Treo 700wx Review

The first thing you may notice when you first hold this Palm Treo 700wx smart phone is its heft. This phone feels good in your hand: sturdy and solid. Your previous phone may have been a very small LG flip phone that has to be held quite delicately so that certain buttons aren't pushed. At 6.4 ounces, this phone is a bit bigger, but still fits in the palm of your hand nicely.

The Palm Treo 700wx comes with Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0. This means that the main screen of the phone basically looks and works like the Windows Operating System often seen in computers. A “Start” button lists the phone’s available programs and Microsoft’s default blue and white/ grey color scheme is a familiar sight. Some people prefer the original Palm platform found in the Treo 700p, but you may find that you'll enjoy having Microsoft Office Mobile (Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, and PowerPoint Mobile) on your phone when you want to view documents on the go. The editing capabilities of these programs are very limited, but it is very useful when you want to read various email attachments while away from the computer. In addition, transferring Office files between your computer and phone via Microsoft’s ActiveSync program is relatively hassle-free.

The Palm Treo 700wx also comes with a 1.3 megapixel camera. The lens is at the back of the phone next to the speaker and also includes a very small self-portrait mirror. Having a data package with your phone, you can send and receive pictures through email. The quality of the pictures is what you would expect from a 1.3 megapixel camera: slightly grainy and not very detailed. I don’t think the Treo’s picture quality is one of the selling points of this phone, but I will admit that it is nice to have the ability to take pictures with your phone at the spur of the moment.

The battery life of this phone is supposed to be relatively decent (“up to 5 hours of continuous digital talk time”). You'll likely not run out of battery despite constant web surfing and an entire day’s worth of personal and business calls. This phone’s memory is also a talking point. The Treo 700wx is supposed to have twice as much memory as its predecessor, the Treo 700w. The benefit of this increase in memory can be seen when running programs and surfing the web..... as there is no noticeable lag or delay in my phone’s level of responsiveness. For people who require significant memory for their phones, this Treo also comes with an additional SD slot for memory expansion.

Although you'll love your Treo 700wx, it is not without its problems. First, there is a very small selection of pre-loaded ring tones to choose from. This is a minor pet peeve, but a pet peeve all the same. Also, the phone does freeze occasionally for no good reason. The solution is simple, however, and typically involves taking out the phone’s battery and restarting the phone. In addition, the phone’s keyboard is comprised of very small keys that may irritate people with large hands. Lastly, there is no integrated Wi-Fi on this phone though future Palm phones may have this feature. Those are all of the problems most folks have encountered so far.... and I hope that others don’t encounter more in the future.

Overall, you'll enjoy your Treo 700wx smartphone tremendously. The primary reason many purchase it is because they are interested in becoming more “connected” Internet-wise. This phone will surpass your expectations for both web and email access. Web surfing is a breeze, although looking at the Treo’s 2 inch screen is no permanent substitute for a computer monitor, and checking email is very easy with minimal set-up issues. One-handed navigation is also super simple..... and the convenience of being able to take a quick peek at your upcoming appointments without having to use two hands to flip open your phone is wonderful. This phone will fulfill your needs and I would recommend it to anyone looking for an all-in-one phone/pda combination.

Treo 700wx Pros:

- Sturdy phone construction / Solid Feel
- Windows Mobile 5.0
- Easy ability to view, edit, and save documents while on the go with Office Mobile
- Smooth syncing experience with PC
- Built-in easy to use camera with self-portrait mirror
- Good battery life
- Significant memory upgrade from the Treo 700w
- Additional SD slot for even more memory capability
- Excellent email and web surfing capability
- Quick phone responsiveness to commands

Treo 700wx Cons:

- Extremely limited pre-loaded ring tones
- Phone sometimes freezes for no good reason and has to be reset
- Qwerty Keyboard is made up of very small keys
- No WiFi
- Slightly bigger than most typical phones

For a little help finding a Palm Treo 700wx that includes the best provider plan in your area visit:

Palm Treo 700wx


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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Motorola Razr V3 Review

The Motorola Razr is the best cell phone you'll ever use. To put it simply..... "It Just Works". I mean, it's got a super long battery life, you can have it running good for a week without a recharge, and it's still says full (I'd turn it off at night, which greatly helps it's life, why have it on when you don't need it???).

Using the phone with the PC involves some work, but works well. Modding it is very easy, and putting games on it is a challenge, but once you have done one game, you have done them all. I like this feature, because you buy these games and having to erase everything off your phone sucks, cuz you have to buy those games again. Well not anymore.... becuase you can have them backed up to your pc, and get them with ease. Using the Razr with a mac is so easy. I don't know about games though, but simply dragging and dropping files to the Razr is the hardest part, and that is way easy. It connects through bluetooth, so file transfers are kinda laggy, but hey, you can deal.

The phone's reception is terrific on a T-Mobile network. Although internet browsing on it can be very very slow, and not worth 6 bucks a month, you can surf the net nonetheless. The volume on this phone is great too, unlike any previous phone you may have had.

The phone is said to be very "breakable" in a sense. Well, it's thin, what do you expect.

My friend has sat on it a few times, and he says you will notice your sitting on it before it breaks. He has also lost his phone. Hehad it in his pocket for easy access (half sticking out) And I guess it fell out in front of his door.

So when he wanted to make a call, he couldn't find it. He picked up his landline phone and dialed his my cell phon's number, then he heared his ring, walking down the hallway, lol. His grandma picked it up outside on the front doorstep. It has a few scratches, but not too bad. But the phone survived the fall, and being in over 100 degree temps for almost a half an hour sitting in the sun on my doorstep. So yes, the phone is pretty durable.

I give this phone a freakin 9.899. Why???

Cuz, it's a

RAZR, nuff said.


For a little help finding a Motorola Razr that includes the best provider plan in your area visit:

Motorola Razr

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Is Municipal Wi-Fi Dying??

There's been lots of news articles recently about citywide Muni-WiFi projects....especially after Earthlink decided to pause and reassess the money-making potential of their citywide Wi-Fi projects.

There's also been an increase in gloom and doom reports out of major tech outlets as cities realize Wi-Fi isn't magic pixie dust and comes with inherent coverage issues.

Of course the majority of the nation's largest projects haven't even been completed yet, and while early subscriber numbers aren't stunning .... cities are finding significant benefits on the municipal and emergency services side. Mostly ....everyone in the whole market is in a wait-and-see mode watching whether Muni-WiFi can really be proven.

What many are finding is that there's no free lunch. These systems cost money to build and operate and maintain and upgrade. That money has to come from somewhere. Some comes from ads (but ad revenues depend on users reading them), some from subscribers, and if those 2 can't cover the cost - they must shut down or get money from the taxpayers.

Unfortunately, the option of shutdown or taxpayer subsidy looks like it may become the default position of many of these systems because they can't draw enough users to make ad supported and subscriber supported systems pay for themselves.

The time has now arrived where the builders of these systems have learned that making these systems pay for themselves is a very risky option. They will now only go forward with a taxpayer backed option as part of the package. We will now see how many local politicians will continue to push muni-wifi systems when the voters start learning it is going to result in tax increases.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

How Much Bandwidth Is Chewed Up By VoIP??

Let's talk turkey for a moment (or Vonage if you want to throw a pun into the discussion ha ha.).

The age old question (OK recent topic of concern) among VoIP users and those whose bandwidth is used to make those calls is......how much bandwidth does VoIP use?

Well Virginia....that's an interesting question. Any discussion may illicit potentially tense reactions. So let's try and shed some light on the subject....in a practical fashion.

Bandwidth isn't measured like it was a garden hose of water. ON and OFF, measuring it's usage. It can be read that way, but it isn't actually looked at that way. Not by most providers anyway. (Unless of course they are trying to rationalize prices to the FCC).

For instance; as a business you may have numerous DS3/OC circuits that you pay for each month. A DS3 for instance rounded off is 45mb of pipe. Now, you pay the same thing for that circuit each month whether you put 1 voip line on it, or an entire network with hundreds of computers and such.

Same with your VoIP. You pay the same amount on an unlimited calling plan whether you make 1 phone call or 1000 calls. To try and measure actual Mega or Terabytes of data as a means of determining cost is pure rationalization.

Ma'Bell, Level 3, or any other backbone has "X" amount of bandwidth that they can use simultaneously. Some of that bandwidth is dedicated, some isn't. Some are using ATM so it can better utilize the bandwidth among inconsistant users, while there are also other flavors like Frame and TDM.

The point is, while some providers and backbone and backhaul carriers might charge a metered circuit, most sell fixed amounts of bandwidth. That's why your ISP has little statements like; "UP TO 1.5MB" or "Speeds may Vary". Just because voip has started making a presence, doesn't mean that ISP's have had to automatically start buying more bandwidth from the backbone.

If they tell you that, they are full of ......it. When DSL and cable broadband are sold to you, the max bandwidth that you are buying is formulated into their pricing and bandwidth demands.

For what it's worth, more bandwidth was probably used, until recently, on streaming audio/video, torrent, MP3 downloads, distributed computing, etc. If your service provider gets too saturated, they will offer more bandwidth at a higher price, which is what they will use to buy from the backbone/backhaul providers.

However when you have 10 people that are using the bandwidth (for VoIP) that would supply 50-100 average (internet using) joes..... not only is that causing more congestion at that junction box, but you are also causing the provider to buy more bandwidth.

You know as well as I do they will not make another tier! They will just raise the prices on the ones already established. How many average people max out their connections on a regular basis?

Anyway, the VoIP companies for the longest time have been getting pretty much a free ride on the PSTN and the ISPs.... plus were not subject to the same taxes MaBell is. So.... you can see why there is so much tension about bandwidth?

If you'd like help find just the right VoIP based solution....covering all the bandwidth in's and out's.....I suggest you take advantage of the free consulting services offered at: Business VoIP

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Video Email Gets Results!!

All of us who are part of the Broadband Nation know that our world of technology is moving too fast to try to keep up with. New gadgets, concepts, capabilities, toys, and tools go from dream and fantasy to reality at almost light speed. Then soon become obsolete as "newer better" comes along.

Well....one such "old" technology seems to have taken on a whole new life recently.....especially in the business world. That technology I speak of is Video Email.

Video E-Mail allows users to record and e-mail personal videos to various clients in real time.

By clicking on a server link to where the video is stored, recipients can view the message in seconds. The system is available in Microsoft Outlook format (and others depending on whose service you choose) .... and helps users to increase exposure in their target markets as well as improve overall communication efficiency.

Nice little alternative to overcrowded web conferencing and "in person" sales trips. A whole lot cheaper too.

Vendor Video E-Mail packages will usually include tracking and reporting tools that tell users who has viewed the video. The system also facilitates the use of other streaming videos such as sales training clips, product demonstrations, and advertisements.

The Video E-Mail system cost varies based on the number of users and software products included. That said I won't even attempt to give even a range of potential package costs here. The field is just too dynamic and changes almost daily.

However....to learn more about the possibilities of Video Email and view one of the better options to choose from I suggest you visit....

1 to 1 Network

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Family Cell Phone Plans....How To Find A Cheap Deal

If you're looking for a cheap family cell phone plan....here are some tips:

As far as national providers go, the least expensive seem to be T-Mobile and Sprint. Each has family plans as low as $59.99 a month for two lines, additional lines are $9.99 a month extra.

Both offer unlimited text message packages for family plans for another $20 a month. So....a plan with 4 phones and unlimited texting will cost you $100 a month before taxes and fees, which will probably increase your bill about 20%, maybe more, it varies by State.

Both offer free phones, although the free phones from T-Mobile seem fancier than those from Sprint.

Sprint has nights and weekends that start at 7 p.m. vs. T-Mobile at 9.p.m. Calls made or received from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for Sprint or 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for T-Mobile are free on weeknights (Mon. - Thurs.). Weekends calls are free on Sprint from 7 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Monday. They are free on T-Mobile from 9 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.

T-Mobile charges an activation fee of $35 per phone, while Sprint waives most activation charges if you sign up online.

Coverage will vary, so make sure you check on their respective web sites to see what kind of service to expect in your area.

Both will want a 2 year commitment if you sign up online. On the other hand, you may be able to find a retailer locally who offers one year contracts for T-Mobile, I don't think you'll find that for Sprint. If you choose the one-year option, though, you may not get the phones for free.

The two other big national carriers, Cingular and Verizon, offer good coverage and free phones, but can be more expensive. Unless you catch one of their specials which aren't bad. Neither one seems to have a text package that covers the whole family. Yet. But stay tuned.

For those of you who may not know, Verizon Wireless as of April 16, 2007 began offering a new messaging package. It allows you unlimited text, pics, video, and instant messaging to anyone on any wireless network in the US. Whether they are Verizon, Sprint, T Mobile, etc.

They had some problems getting accounts set up on the new plan the first day. Many had to wait a couple days to sign up.

You'll end up paying exactly the same amount you are now for the new plan. Depending on if you are on the Family Share plan or a single line, it's 20.00 extra for a single line or 30.00 for a family share package. However, I had a friend with two lines on their account with the 10.00 messaging package, and two with the 5.00 messaging package. So, they dropped those package and saved 30.00. Then they payed it back on the new plan and got unlimited messaging to anybody in the US. Not a bad deal if you have lots of friends who aren't on Verizon.

Now....for more help here's a neat little tool which will search and compare available cell phones and providers by area for you (USA only)....covering every item you may be interested in.

Cell Phone Finder

Besides standard cell phones this tool also covers other wireless devices such as the popular Blackberry.....and even includes a section on cell phone accessories.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Bandwidth 101....Understanding Loop, Port, And More

Here's the scenario....you're in need of increased bandwidth to meet your business voice and/or data applications. You're targeting T1 or DS3 as your solution...without a router (let's say you already have one or will get one seperate from the bandwidth provider).

Before you go out and jump at the first "attractive" offer you see.....there's a few things you need to understand. Particularly the terms Loop and Port....as well as "dedicated" and "shared" connections. Otherwise....you risk paying more for something you don't really need. Or worse yet....paying less for something that doesn't do what you must have.

So here we go....now pay attention and take notes.

Loop is the connection from your building to the provider's interface point, which is usually the main central office for your region, not necessarily the local central office.

Port is the actual connection to the internet backbone.

If your equipment was in the provider's data center, you would not need loop, but there will always be a port.

If your price quotes vary wildly, most likely you are running up against the "shared" vs "dedicated" issue. a "dedicated" connection (usually quoted by Tier I providers like AT&T, MCI, Sprint, Qwest, Savvis) will get you the full bandwidth to the internet backbone. A "shared" connection will get you full bandwidth to the carrier's interface point, from which they buy a big connection to their Tier I carrier.

An example, they buy a T3 (aka DS3) which consists of 28 T1 connections. Then they sell 60 T1 connections, recognizing that not all users will be requiring their full bandwidth at any particular time. Kind of like the old AOL issues of them having 1 modem for every 12 customers, and then having to buy more modems as customers complained about busy signals.

The issue of "shared" connections is a lively issue. You might trek over to the BroadbandReports.com forum for Wireless Internet Providers where you will see several discussions about how many customers can be supported by a link of a certain size.

If you are hosting a web site at your location, or if you are running a real time application and need absolute time sensitive responses to your internet queries, then you want to pony up to pay for the dedicated connection.

Another issue affecting your price would be how long is the loop from your central office to the carrier's interface point. Assuming that you're in Richmond VA (for example), a carrier requiring a loop all the way to Washington DC would have a higher cost (and thus a higher price), than a carrier with an interface point in Manassas.

As for any questions about IP addresses, and e-mails:

Most Tier 1 providers will give you up to a class C (256) Block at no charge with justification. Plenty of IP address coverage for whatever your application.

Email, is almost a none issue with T1 service, as most people buying a T1 don't need ISP Email's. But if you do need them, find the best offer. However most providers consider email a free service.

There you go. Now you're armed with a priceless education. That should translate to smart price shopping.

Here's another tip....if you are looking for a T1, DS3, or even OC3 bandwidth solution....I stongly suggest you take advanatge of the free services at DS3-Bandwidth.com.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Vonage Denied Retrial....Turn Out The Light The Party's Over

Vonage has been denied a new trial, something the VoIP provider requested after this week's Supreme Court patent rulings. The company will however be able to "include the arguments in their briefs on the merits" at an upcoming June 25 appeal hearing.

Read the whole story here: Bloomberg Vonage Article

Geez.....this is really getting old.

Somebody should just put Vonage out of their misery.

As for all the suffering Vonage customers.....those that haven't already bailed best jump while they still can. Time is running short.

The best place for a soft landing is to switch NOW to Packet8 or SunRocket. Both are better services anyway....cost, performance, AND customer treatment.... plus their stability means they're going to be around for a long time.

To check them out look here:

Packet8

SunRocket

With their law suit woe's and their stock performance in the toilet....it's only a matter of time before Vonage ceases to exist.

Shares of Vonage fell 13 cents, or 4 percent, to $3.12 in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. They have tumbled 55 percent this year, leaving the company with a market value of $484.8 million. Verizon rose $1.47 to $41.07

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