How to Prevent another Sunrocket fiasco?

While I have limited sympathy for Sunrocket’s customers, who signed up for an offer that sounded too good to be true (and turned out to be)- I do not envy those who relied on Sunrocket as their only landline or those who published it as their business number.

Alec’s post about compulsory insurance such as the banks have made we think, how can we prevent a Sunrocket rerun? It really is not too complicated. However insurance such as what Alec suggests would not solve the problem which is immediate loss of connectivity.

The best solution would be a failover system. First of all, VoiP providers would be required to provide a ATA with at least 2 fxs ports. Not a problem most do. Port 2 would be provisioned to a 3rd party public server that would allow emergency and toll free calls. This server could be operated by a trade association for example. So even if the primary provider goes down you can still call out. Allowing toll free calls would give access to calling card services, solving immediate needs.

Incoming calls though a little more complicated can also be solved. If a VoIP provider ceased service the phone number provider (say Level3) would be required to automatically (based on network failure?) switch incoming calls to a standby voicemail system (manufacturers like Varicom can provide them very cheaply). This server would have voicemail to email functionality so the customer could access them either via email/the web or an access number. Most important – you will not miss important calls!

VoIP is here with us to stay and as an industry we need to show that we can be reliable. If we don’t – goodbye independent VoiP providers.

UPDATE -  A number of suggestions have come in, how to enhance the ideas expressed above. If you have any ideas, please send them in, since we are contemplating  putting out a proposal.

How to be a great blogger?

ooma_logo_hor.gifRead Jon Arnold’s posts and learn from them. The last few days telecom bloggers have been writing all over the place about ooma. When every one was done, Jon weighed in with a well written post which sums it all up.

Thats why I like Jon’s blog, he usually is not the first to comment, but when he does it is worth reading! I think what makes Jon different is that he is a analyst  by profession. There are alot of smart bloggers out there, but not too many give you thorough analysis.

UPDATE – Alec also posted a very thorough roundup. So if you want to get the full scoop on ooma – Read Om’s original post with the 120+ comments, then Jon and Alec and you will know all that is worth knowing on this subject!

Lights out for Sunrocket…. give them more services!

As a businessman for the last 25 years, I am the last person to want to benefit from a competitors demise. Unfortunately it seems that Sunrocket is down for the count.

Now, assuming that their halt of services as reported in the New York Times is final. What is the opportunity here? I think resellers should think ahead and offer Sunrocket customers more than a low price. Offer them more services!

sunrocket-wtagline.gifSunrocket offered their customers a dial tone replacement for only $199 a year (and even threw in as a promo – the 2nd year for free!). If I was a reseller I would offer them more, for example give the customer all the advantages of a full hosted PBX, free. Offer them fax to email. free. Offer them call recording. free. Offer them IVRs, autoattendant etc. free. Well not really free – but included in the basic price.

Do you want to help out Sunrocket customers? Sign up today with The Flat Planet Phone Company, you can be offering all these advanced services included in the price to your customers immediately. The FPPC provides resellers with a full, immediate platform to resell private labeled advanced Voip services. To sign up go here and start selling services today.

How many seconds in a minute?

Sixty?? Think again, according to IDT many calling card providers only give you 36 seconds in a minute. IDT in legal proceedings against a number of their competitors asserted that it is hard to compete on a level playing field if a minute is not a minute. According to their legal brief, some of their competitors only provide 60% of the advertised minutes to the consumer. Sounds fishy? Well recently a softswitch manufacturer demoed his system to me. One of the features he was proud of was the ability to set the length of the minute to as long as you want. You could even do it with a random algorithm, so that would change from minute to minute. Another feature was to randomly deduct a minute from the balance.

I was shocked to see this, although he explained to me that it is standard on all calling card platforms. Now that I saw the IDT press release, I realize that he is probably right!

So next time you see a calling card for $20.00 with 2000 minutes and you think it is too good to be true – it probably is!

Is Facebook sticky?

My friend and teacher Thomas Howe wrote a post yesterday on the exodus that he is beginning to see from Linkedin to Facebook. Thomas asks – “If there’s a mass exodus to Facebook, doesn’t it sort of suggest that the creation of these large databases of information isn’t THAT hard to replicate?”

As someone who has left Linkedin for Facebook – my reply is – a social network is not a depository of data, but rather of people. If I can easily interact with people that are important to me, I will stay there. If not, I will move on. The great thing about the Facebook API that is that it made it easier for me to interact with my netrwork and make new connections. The launch today of the Bay Partners AppFactory validates my feelings!

Zlio Secures $4 million In Series A Funding


Zlio has announced their Series A Funding. Zlio gives users the ability to create their own shops and sell goods from other ecommerce services. Users can stock their store with over three million products and earn commissions on every item bought from their Zlio Shop.

I like the idea – start your own store… I like so much that I am offering all Zlio owners to also start their own phone company 🙂

Congrats to Jeremie Berrebi (picture above) and team!!

How much can you talk??

In recent years flat rate “talk as much as you want” telephony packages have become a common offering cellular and VoiP providers. Such an offering is a win win proposition for both the consumer and the provider. The consumer feels he is getting a great deal, and the provider knows that statistically the average residential line does about 1000 minutes a month so he makes a profit.

I have always wondered, what is the inside story behind this business model. Why don’t people speak more than a 1000 minutes if they can? The Economist magazine recently ran a story about Anthropologists who research telephone behaviour. Stefana Broadbent, an anthropologist who leads the User Adoption Lab at Swisscom, Switzerland’s largest telecoms operator, has been looking at usage patterns associated with different communications technologies. She found out that even when people are given unlimited cheap or free calls, the number and length of calls does not increase significantly. Her theory is that this may be because there is only so much time you can spend talking; and when you are on the phone it is harder to do other things.

Another interesting finding is is that woman miss more calls than men. The reason? Women tend to carry their phone in in their pocket book and by the time they find it, the found has stopped ringing….

Goodbye Linkedin!

Though I am not such a popular guy, I do get a few invitations to link up on Linkedin every week. Since I joined Facebook, a couple of weeks ago, I have contemplated how to answer them, since the more I use Facebook, the more I realize that it is much better than Linkedin, and who has the patience or the time to manage 2 networks??

Facebook, is alive and popping and I am actually meeting and interacting with business people that I would never have a chance of meeting anywhere else. Facebook is a network of networks. Linkedin while they do have groups, is still basically a one on one affair.

This morning I received 2 more Linkedin invites. Enough I said – make a decision, cut the cord. So I did, as you can see below, from the screenshot of my Linkedin profile. If you want to find me, I am on Facebook. Will I ever return to Linkedin? As they say – never say never….. But for now – Goodbye Linkedin!