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The End for Vonage? 296

TheRealSCA writes "The latest in Verizon vs. Vonage is in. The judge has basically stopped Vonage from accepting new customers. From the article: 'A judge issued an injunction Friday that effectively bars Internet phone carrier Vonage from signing up new customers as punishment for infringing on patents held by Verizon. Vonage's lawyers said the compromise injunction posted by U.S District Judge Hilton is almost as devastating as an injunction that would have affected Vonage's 2.2 million existing customers. "It's the difference of cutting off oxygen as opposed to the bullet in the head," Vonage lawyer Roger Warin said.'"
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The End for Vonage?

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  • by RendonWI ( 958388 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:26PM (#18636381)
    I have been a happy vonage customer for over a year now, cheap unlimited phone is great. Looks like this could be the start of the end for that. So what is next? Anyone use Skype and like it? Is Skype next to be sued? Could anyone tell me alternative to Vonage other than Skype. I want my cheap phone service damnit!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:35PM (#18636519)
    Verizon Voicewing [verizon.com]. I doubt Verizon will sue themselves.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 06, 2007 @01:45PM (#18636659)
    disclaimer: I used to work for a company that provided VoIP equipment...

    There's a whole shitload of VoIP providers out there. Most of them employ people with the technical ability of a rotted stump and will mis-route your 911 calls. It's a business plan that attracts venture capital but nobody who actually runs one of these places has more than a dozen brain cells. They want ATAs drop shipped to customers so they don't have to hold stock, they can't read an Ethereal (Wireshark, whatever) dump, etc. Vonage was the best of a bad lot, IMO.

    Unless you do a lot of international calling, just keep your cell phone or pay for a land line. If you need international, Skype really is pretty good.
  • by pcaylor ( 648195 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @02:12PM (#18637071)
    Vonage has until 4/12/07 before the new injunction takes effect. (The new injunction barring new customers which replaced the old injunction that would have shut Vonage down today if it had been implemented.)
  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @02:34PM (#18637429)
    How technically difficult is it to produce the opener on the top of a modern soda can, especially once you've seen one? Not very.

    I beg to differ:

    While the first aluminum cans were noticeably easier to open than steel ones, a separate opener was still required. This was an inconvenience, especially when there was plenty of beer but no church key at the family picnic. It was in such a situation that Ermal Fraze of Dayton, Ohio, found himself in 1959, when he resorted to using a car bumper to open a can. The operation evidently yielded more foam than refreshment, and Fraze is reported to have said that there must be a better way. On a subsequent night, unable to sleep after drinking too much coffee, he went to his basement workshop to tinker with the idea of attaching an opening lever to a can. He was hoping the activity would make him drowsy, but instead "I was up all night and it came to me--just like that. It was all there. I knew how to do it so it would be commercially feasible." Fraze could make such a judgment because he was the owner of the Dayton Reliable Tool and Manufacturing Company, and he had considerable experience with metal forming and scoring, the mastery of which would be essential to developing the pop-top can, for which he obtained the first patent in 1963. "I personally did not invent the easy-open can end," he later asserted. "People have been working on that since 1800. What I did was develop a method of attaching a tab on the can top."

    Eventually a ring, which functioned as a lever, was riveted to a pre-scored tear strip. A pull at the ring broke the can's seal and then lifted the attached strip of metal out of the can top along the scored outline. The hole that was left extended a good distance from the edge of the can to (or beyond) the center, and so as the can was tipped for pouring or drinking, air could enter the top of the hole and allow the easy, gurgle-free exit of the contents. The early pop-top or pop-tab worked reasonably well, not only eliminating the need for a church key but also replacing with one smooth motion the action of punching two separate triangular holes. Still, scoring a tear strip in a can top so that it will be easy enough to remove yet strong enough to hold against the internal pressure requires some rather tricky engineering. Some early pull tabs were blown off prematurely by the high pressure of the carbonation rushing out after a consumer's initial cracking of the tear strip, so Fraze and other inventors came up with schemes to benignly direct the first whoosh of escaping gas away from the tab itself. Throughout the mid-1960s numerous patents were awarded for improvements in pull-tab devices. Then a new problem arose: environmental pollution.

    By the mid-1970s those tabs that pulled completely off the can top were coming under increasing attack from environmentalists, and with good reason. 1 recall stopping at traffic lights in those days and trying to count up all the pull tabs (by then looking like little curledup tongues on key rings) among the cigarette butts beside the road. I could never finish counting before the light changed. Picnic sites and beaches were disastrously prone to the sharp litter, which was especially difficult to clean up because the small tabs passed easily through the tines of rakes. Animals, fish, and children were swallowing the tabs, and bathers were cutting their feet on them. Some conscientious people would drop the tab into the can after opening it; and some of them required operations when they swallowed the tab with their drink. In short, there was growing concern over the failure of the pull tab to function as well as desired in that regard, and this led to another rash of patent applications for easy-open cans without removable tabs. Form Follows Failure [americanheritage.com]

  • by whatme ( 997566 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @03:12PM (#18638111)
    The interesting part of all this will be how it plays out now. I can see a couple of options, probably all bad for the current Vonage stockholders.

    1. Verizon wins outright, tells Vonage to stuff it and they go bankrupt. Service ends after a notification period. Bad for Vonage, bad for customers, black-eye for Verizon.

    2. The "strangle" continues through the long appeal process. Vonage reaches a point of being non-viable even if they can engineer around the patents. Verizon "buys" them as part of an out-of-court settlement and continues the business (possibly with rate increases or tie-ins with their cell business.

    3. Vonage can reengineer around the patents in time to survive, but will struggle due to the judgement costs (infringement) anyway. They eventually are bought out.

    I don't think #1 is likely since Verizon wouldn't really gain much. #2 and #3 are more likely. Option 4 being Vonage reengineers quickly and somehow wins the appeal seems a bit remote at this point...

  • by Powertrip ( 702807 ) on Friday April 06, 2007 @05:23PM (#18640093) Homepage Journal
    I have had Vonage (Canada) for about a year, and up until today it has been pretty darn good. Can't beat the features/price with any other carrier up here.

    Now, today of all days, my ATA won't connect... So I have to call support... Oh my. It must be bedlam over there, because after 5 calls, and over 2 hours on my cell phone, I could NOT get through to tech support. I can reach a human every time, but they can never assist me, and queue me up in a never-ending wait....

    I guess it's time to make the jump to Packet8 or some other Voip supplier before the whole house of cards comes tumbling down. It may not be Verizon that kills them, but the stampede of their own customers panicing....


The trouble with the rat-race is that even if you win, you're still a rat. -- Lily Tomlin