1. Texas Sues Vonage Over e911; Vonage Canada to Use HBF for e911
The state of Texas has filed a lawsuit under the Deceptive Trade Practices Act that accuses Vonage of failing to clearly inform customers they do not automatically receive e911 service with Vonage’s phone service. The state is seeking $20,000 for each incident in which a Vonage consumer without the feature add-on tried unsuccessfully to reach e911 services. The number of cases has not been disclosed.
Texas Attorney Greg Abbott introduced the case based on an armed robbery at a Houston home more than a month ago, in which Peter and Sosamma John were shot, and their 17-year old daughter tried to call 911 but emergency services were not available. The teenager went to a neighbor’s house to reach a 911 operator. The John family had subscribed to Vonage, but opted not to pay additional fees to have e911 service included in their calling plan.
Brooke Shulz, a Vonage spokesperson, indicated that about half of the provider’s 600,000 subscribers do not sign up for e911. For those that are subscribed to e911 services, with the exception of Rhode Island residents, subscribers must verbally provide the 911 dispatcher with a home address and call back number. Vonage uses Intrado’s managed 911 services.
Shulz claims the company does enough to inform customers that opt not to receive 911 services through statements that appear on 2 separate web pages in the online subscription activation process and via an email issued to new subscribers that note that 911 is not included in their plans.
Abbott counters with claims that 911 information is available only within the fine print on the Vonage web site and buried within the users’ guide. He claims that consumers activating service over the phone are not advised of the 911 option. Abbott is calling for Vonage to stop saying it offers 911 calling, to clarify in its advertising the psuedo emergency service that is offered and to remove the burden from the customer to activate the service.
According to Rob Smith, Director of Sales at HBF Group, Vonage will announce tomorrow that it will exclusively use HBF’s e911 solution throughout Canada. HBF’s managed solution provides 911 dispatchers with both a transmitted callback number and home address for 10-digit numbers. With the service, consumers will be responsible for updating their location through a web- interface so that 911 dispatchers get accurate information transmitted.
HBF provides 911 solutions to PointOne and Volo, which are both managed, wholesale, VoIP service providers.
Vonage, as well as every other primary line consumer voice service provider, needs to make 911 service a part of every available calling plan and not label it is as a value added feature.
In addition to Intrado and HBF, Telecommunications Systems, Inc also provides a 911 solution for VoIP providers.
State of Texas
3. AOL Europe to Use Avaya for IP-Based Contact Centers
AOL Europe will deploy Avaya’s Communications Manager IP telephony solution within 14 of its contact centers in Germany, the UK/Ireleand, and France. In France, the contact center will be a hybrid system, whereas the other locations will be pure IP networks. Specifically, the net access provider will deploy media servers, media gateways, call center and messaging applications, a management system, and IP phones.
The contact centers employ approximately 2700 employees. AOL Europe has more than 6.3 million customers.
5. Cabovisao to Launch VoCable Services in Portugal
Cabovisao, a cable provider based in Portugal, plans to launch VoIP services in July of this year to its 120,000 video subscribers. The provider will use C-Cor Solutions’ Service Activation Management for subscriber management, workflow management, and device provisioning.
7. Juniper Networks to Acquire Kagoor Networks for $67.5M
Juniper Networks, a router vendor, has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Kagoor Networks, a session border controller vendor, for $67.5 million in cash, plus options and other incentives and equity compensation. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.
Kagoor generated less than $5 million in revenue in 2004 and it is expected to be less than 1 cent per share dilutive to Juniper in 2005 and be accretive in 2006.
Kagoor is headquarted in San Mateo, with a R&D center in Israel. The company’s products are deployed among more than 100 carriers worldwide, with most using Juniper’s routing platform. Both Kagoor and Juniper already share strategic partnerships with Lucent, Siemens, and NEC.