The consumer VOIP company says it wants to add IP Centrex-like features to its service

February 2, 2007

2 Min Read
Vonage Adding Enhanced Voice Tricks

Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG) will soon augment its VOIP service with tools to set contact-specific call management rules, Light Reading has learned.

That means the Vonage sales pitch -- which has been all about saving money against traditional phone service -- is expanding to include user productivity, Vonage spokeswoman Brooke Schulz says.

While details are limited, and the company isn't discussing a release date, Schulz says Vonage will soon offer a Web interface where users can set rules for handling calls from specific people or certain contact types.

One rule, for instance, could be that calls with caller ID blocked would go straight to voicemail. Or, Vonage users could tell the platform to play a pre-recorded message when a certain phone number calls.

Another example: "If I am busy on the computer when you call, I can set a rule saying that your call will come through as an IM on my computer," Schulz says.

Vonage also wants to bring mobile devices into the circle, allowing certain calls to get forwarded to a cellphone, for instance.

Such tools are commonplace with IP Centrix systems, and startups like Ottawa-based iotum Corp. are being created around the concept. Microsoft has built a series of unified communications and presence tools into its Live Communications Server product. But Vonage appears to be the first VOIP provider to take some of those tricks to the consumer market.

Whether consumers are technically savvy enough to use the stuff is yet to be seen. "It's really going to take a provider that presents it in a simple way," says a spokesman for SunRocket Inc. , one of Vonage's larger consumer-VOIP competitors. Sunrocket agrees that IP voice is heading in that direction, but "how soon we get there is another matter," the spokesman says.

— Mark Sullivan, Reporter, Light Reading

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