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Communications Businesses The Almighty Buck The Internet

Internet Phone Start-up Goes Belly-Up 184

westlake writes "The New York Times has a short piece on the failure of SunRocket, the second-largest internet phone service after Vonage, with 200,000 customers. Start-ups like SunRocket are under enormous pressure from the telcos and cable, which have marketing muscle and can bundle VoIP with Internet, TV, home security services, and so on. The start-up has only one product, and since they don't own the lines, they can't control the quality of service. Attracting subscribers can put a start-up deep into the red. Vonage added 166,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2007, but lost $77 million."
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Internet Phone Start-up Goes Belly-Up

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  • It seems almost impossible for smaller service providers to provide high quality service cheap enough to attract new subscribers and still compete/advertise, etc. Good luck! This type of business requires savy subscribers to start up, and lost of them.
    • This really blows. I switched from Vonage two-plus years ago to SunRocket, and now I'm scrambling. Many of the subscribers have been moving to ViaTalk, which is offering to honor existing SunRocket contracts and has a similar price (but only one phone number instead of two).
  • by AltGrendel ( 175092 ) <(ag-slashdot) (at) (exit0.us)> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:06AM (#19886385) Homepage
    ...when Netcraft confirms it.

    Till then, SunRocket VoIP is alive an well

  • by morgan_greywolf ( 835522 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:07AM (#19886395) Homepage Journal
    I'm guessing the SunRocket customers will be moved to Vonage.

    I wouldn't worry about Vonage so much. They have 2.4 million subscribers already. Plus, it's not as if the cable company or telcos offering VOIP service have that much more control over the quality of their service either. They're still stuck with the same problems everyone else is in regard to Internet traffic.

    For not having control over their traffic, I've been using Vonage for almost 3 years now over Comcast in Michigan and now Bright House Networks' Road Runner service in the Tampa Bay area and I have to say, the quality of service has never sucked so long as my Internet connection is working right.
    • Most likely with the telcos activly trying to distroy VOIP I am not going to go to a company that distroyed my cheap telephone service with their more expensive.
      • I agree 100%! I won't ever get my service from Verizon or AT&T. They can suck it. If it comes down to it, and the telcos succeed in killing Vonage and everyone else in their industry, I'll probably either suck it up and get my VOIP service from Bright House, or just go back to having a cell phone as my primary line (which is also not from Verizon or AT&T).

        I'd call for boycott against Verizon and AT&T, but all those people who just signed up for a 2-year contract when they bought their iPhone
        • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @10:01AM (#19886863) Journal

          back to having a cell phone as my primary line (which is also not from Verizon or AT&T).

          Look at T-Mobile's HotSpot @ Home service. It's basically GSM over IP (voice, data, SMS, etc), with the added advantage that you can do seemless handoffs between IP and GSM, i.e: start a call at home, walk out the door and it switches to GSM. I'm loving it. $39.99 for 1,000 cellular minutes (with nights & weekends), + $9.99 for the HotSpot add-on. I basically have unlimited calls. Plus I can use wi-fi in any area where there isn't a good GSM signal.

          T-Mobile doesn't have landline business in the United States so they don't have any reason to undercut their own offerings to keep a dying landline industry alive. And the best part is not giving your money to AT&T or Verizon.

          • by chill ( 34294 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @10:51AM (#19887417) Journal
            Does it come with a get-out-of-jail [arstechnica.com] free card?

            Does it automatically pick up any open hotspot, or do they have to be pre-configured?
            • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @10:53AM (#19887455) Journal

              Does it automatically pick up any open hotspot, or do they have to be pre-configured?

              It won't automatically connect to an open one unless you add it to the list of saved networks. You can use any open hotspot with a DHCP server though.

            • by BobPaul ( 710574 ) *

              Does it come with a get-out-of-jail free card?

              Overzealous cops won't know you're using the coffee shop wifi. Laptops are obvious, phones aren't. Also, since T-Mobile seamlessly hands off the call to cellular when the wifi signal dries up AND bills for the call based on place of origin, you only need the wifi to initiate the call. Walk/drive away and the call continues to incur 0 added costs.

              Regardless, $40, let alone $50, is more than I pay for my home and cellular phones combined anyway.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Endo13 ( 1000782 )

      ...and I have to say, the quality of service has never sucked so long as my Internet connection is working right.
      Which just demonstrates why owning the lines (and therefore being able to provide a bit more QA) really cuts both ways: if you put in the extra money and resources to keep your lines and service in working condition, everyone else using those lines to deliver their own service also reaps the benefits.
      • unfortunately the telcos and cable companies will favor only their VOIP packets and not a competitors, so you do not "reap the benefits" unless you own the lines. This is what Net Neutrality is all about.
        • However, with net neutrality, they wouldn't be able to give priority to any VOIP packets, including their own. It's a double edged sword. On one hand, they want to deliver QOS, on the other hand, people don't want them deciding which packets get better QOS. It would be nice if you could mark a packet as VOIP, and all VOIP packets would get treated as the same, and given a higher QOS over other packets where lag isn't so much of an issue, like large file downloads. However, I think that such a system wou
          • by Retric ( 704075 )
            Net neutrality says nothing about protocol driven QOS. Net neutrality states you can't alter service due to the source or destination of a given packet.

            PS: We had a form of net neutrality and EMAIL packets where downgraded vs. HTTP.
            • by elgaard ( 81259 )
              The one paying for the connection should be allowed to prioritize packages on the connection he/she is paying for.
              Ie. The building where I live is paying an ISP for an ADSL connection and 16 IP-addresses.
              We use http://www.adsl-optimizer.dk/ [adsl-optimizer.dk] for QoS and it works very well.

              But we would love to be able to tell the ISP to eg. prioritize incoming packages from the ISP to four of our IP-adresses.

          • However, with net neutrality, they wouldn't be able to give priority to any VOIP packets, including their own.

            No. Net Neutrality is about setting QoS rules based on endpoints, not on content. You are allowed to set low latency rules for packets that you detect as VoIP, but you are not allowed to just set these rules for packets that are destined for your VoIP to POTS gateway, or for endpoints off your network that pay you extra money.

            However, I think that such a system would be abused, with many users tagging everything as VOIP, or whatever gets them the highest QOS.

            You're treating QoS as a one-dimensional thing, while in fact it is three dimensional (maybe more I've forgotten). The dimensions are:

            • Latency.
            • Probability of packet loss.
            • Throug
    • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:55AM (#19886815) Journal

      Plus, it's not as if the cable company or telcos offering VOIP service have that much more control over the quality of their service either. They're still stuck with the same problems everyone else is in regard to Internet traffic.

      They aren't stuck with any of the same problems if the traffic never leaves their own network. The cable outfit's VoIP packets may never leave the cable network itself, if they designed it so the VoIP->PSTN switch-over happens before their network edge. Ditto for the telcos. And quite a few of the telcos (Verizon and AT&T come to mind) are Tier 1 providers in their own right -- and could easily have end-to-end QoS for their own VoIP traffic.

      Note: I'm not defending them or advocating for their service over Vonage or anybody else. Just pointing out the obvious. And for what it's worth, using T-Mo's @Home service (which isn't strictly VoIP, it's closer to GSM over IP), I haven't had any problems with my internet connection.

    • I wouldn't worry about Vonage so much.
      Can any company sustain losing $77 million per quarter indefinitely? I'm not trolling, but seriously asking becasue I was considering moving to Vonage before reading this.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Can any company sustain losing $77 million per quarter indefinitely? I'm not trolling, but seriously asking becasue I was considering moving to Vonage before reading this.

        Actually, according to TFA, it was $73 million, but what's $4 million between friends? ;)

        And the answer is obviously "no." But, the real question is will the company continuously sustain losses in the millions? And the answer again, is "no." That's because the ratio of their net losses to total revenue dropped last year. It was 0.89 in

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by vtcodger ( 957785 )
      ***I have to say, the quality of service has never sucked so long as my Internet connection is working right.***

      That's the issue, now isn't it? My Verizon DSL connection slows to a crawl from time to time, and drops me completely several times a week. I can download huge files -- Slackware CDs, VMs, etc. And I can surf the net. But I can't hold an Internet Radio connection open for more than an hour or two. Rebooting the DSL modem is a regular occurence around here. My son's Comcast connection in Se

      • If restarting the modem helps, could it be a buildup of heat in the modem? That was a factor causing a lot of downtime/dropped packets on a DSL connection that someone I know had. Turns out they had the modem in an unventilated cupboard and around spring/summertime it just choked from the heat.
    • by Andy Dodd ( 701 )
      "I wouldn't worry about Vonage so much. They have 2.4 million subscribers already. Plus, it's not as if the cable company or telcos offering VOIP service have that much more control over the quality of their service either. They're still stuck with the same problems everyone else is in regard to Internet traffic."

      Not really.
      1) Many of those people are essentially providing "last mile" service and not much more (easier to control), probably one reason they're so much more expensive.
      2) Many of the big cable
    • by superbus1929 ( 1069292 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @10:53AM (#19887441) Homepage
      Key words: as long as the connection is working.

      I had a three day - THREE DAY - outage at my house, which took out my internet, TV, you name it. Therefore, since I'm a SunRocket customer (:'(), that took out my phone, too. Even better: my house is in a nice little recessed valley, which doesn't get good cell reception. Therefore, to call tech support, I would have to walk up the road about a quarter mile, and get one bar worth of reception.

      For a day and a half, this was the conversation:

      "Hello, yes, we're completely out here..."
      "OK! What exactly is out?"
      "My internet is out"
      "OK..."
      "And my Cable is out"
      "OK..."
      *talk a little longer. She asks for a phone number; I give her my cell, and instructions to leave a message if they get my VM, since I'm out of reception range*
      "Do you have a home phone number?"
      "Yes, but it's out too, thanks to the internet being out"
      "Do you have our Voice Over IP service?"
      "No, I use SunRocket"
      "Well, we don't do support for SunRocket, you will need to contact their tech support"
      "No, lady, I know you don't support SunRocket, but my internet and cable are out!"
      "You will need to contact SunRocket support"
      "No, this has nothing to do with Su--"
      "Thank you for calling Comcast! *CLICK*"

      After many call-backs and attempts to get her and the next three techs fired, I FINALLY - after three days - got someone out to the house, who explained why everything died: We were the victims of the most amateur attempt at stealing cable ever. It was laughable; shredded cable where he tried to put the connector on, cut wire everywhere, he eventually had the cable un-sheathed, and tied in together in a knot.

      But it took three days to get a tech, partly because it was a weekend, and partly because of SunRocket, and them absolutely refusing to help me because I DARED to have an internet service that Comcast didn't expressly approve.

      If anything did in my VoIP provider, it was this bullshit. And that leaves me with very unattractive options: Go to Vonage (who have their own problems), go back to AT+T land line, or go with Comcast's VoIP (a company who I'd dump completely if I had that option).
      • by n0w0rries ( 832057 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @12:04PM (#19888517)
        Rule #1 when dealing with level 1 tech support. You know what the problem is--so tell them what they need to hear. "Do you have a home phone number?" Your answer--"No" Problem solved. And whatever you do never tell them you're using a linux computer as your firewall! I'm running ipcop, but if I call tech support I tell them I've got my cable modem plugged directly into my Windows XP computer--and it still doesn't work.
        • I expect even a level 1 to know that SunRocket isn't my problem. Maybe as a Lv. 3, I have certain expectations, but I expect a Lv. 1 to at least be smart enough not to go "Hm, cable and internet... it's obviously this other company!"
        • if I call tech support I tell them I've got my cable modem plugged directly into my Windows XP

          And that's why they say nobody on their networks uses Linux, so it's not worth supporting.
      • by cHiphead ( 17854 )
        Wait so you are saying that you walked up the street for every support call, when simply walking around your house and checking the physical connection on your cable line(s) and the connection at the street would have immediately told you that someone was haxoring on your wires? What the hell are you doing on slashdot? Any geek knows how to steal cable and knows to check his own cables when things mysteriously go out. 3 days? Shame.

        Cheers.
        • See, when I first called them, reporting an outage (keep in mind, we're a multi-family house), they said there was a known outage in our area. If they'd have told us there was no known outage, in my mind, I probably would have gone to step B. Instead, I had that mental block, and on one told me that there was no general outage; all we knew was that our entire house was out, and no one was refuting a general outage.

          Otherwise, I'd have been all over it. But thanks to that, I didn't get that mental block out o
      • by nuintari ( 47926 )
        The door swings the other way too, I work for an ISP, and we get calls from customers who are having problems with voip. The voip carrier always tells it is an issue with their ISP. It invariably turns out that they need to forward some ports on their router, or actually plug the fucking device in correctly, but they want us to talk their customer through fixing what is an issue with their service, but for some reason, they see fit to blame us.

        My policy for voip on our network: you can use it, it is not aga
    • by BobPaul ( 710574 ) *

      I wouldn't worry about Vonage so much
      They've only lost money every year since they've existed. There's no need to turn a profit, none at all.
  • ..... Can VOIP providers who aren't connected with a Telco make a go of it? So far it seems that the answer is no seeing that Sunrocket i dead and Vonage is not exactly healthy either.
    • IMO, what makes this market tough is the saturation of competition + the low QoS of home broadband. I had lingo for a while until I eventually moved to the cell phone only setup. I was hoping that VoIP would drive the price of land lines down, but it does not seem to have phased telcos and the cable company VoIP offering is nothing short of highway robbery.
      • The dedicaed telephone network is still best, but I find VOIP quality better than cell any day. I suppose it all depends on what the broadband to your particular home is like.
        • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

          but I find VOIP quality better than cell any day.

          I've never had an issue with cell call quality. Perhaps that's because I live in a suburban/rural area and they don't have to resort to tricks like slashing the codec down to squeeze more people onto limited spectrum. My cell sounds just as good as any landline or VoIP phone that I've ever used.

          Where are you that you can detect a noticeable difference when using a cell phone? What provider are you using?

    • Can VOIP providers who aren't connected with a Telco make a go of it?

      What struck me were the numbers, which do not impress: Vonage at $2.95 a share. Penny stock territory. SunRocket No. 2 in VoIP with 200,000 subscribers.

      From The-Handwriting-Is-On-The-Wall Department:

      Internet phone service provider SunRocket Inc. fired a significant number of employees and several top executives on June 29.
      The layoffs included Chief Technology Officer Mark Fedor and Chief Information Officer Robert Kramer. CFO David Sa

  • SunRocket (Score:2, Funny)

    by UncleWilly ( 1128141 ) *
    Things we learned

    1. Don't let a 3-year-old name your company
    • SunRocket
      Obligatory Simpsons reference:

      Skinner: Poland, tell us about your nation's achievements.

      Milhouse: Well, uh, I heard they sent a rocket to the sun once... at night! And there was that submarine, with the screen doors...

      Skinner: No, no, no, no, no. Young man, you need to do some serious boning!
  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:11AM (#19886439)
    I'll never forget Leo Laporte laughing about the business model of Dialpad on "The Screen Savers" back in 1999. The idea of giving free phone service away, with no real way to recoup their money, was laughable even in those heady days of "internet 1.0". The model has improved only slightly in the "internet 2.0" era, I'm afraid.
    • I forgot about Leo. Wow, that show imploded.
      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:41AM (#19886675)
        Leo was one of the hardest working men on television back in those ZDTV days. The guy was live on TV every day with 3 different shows, would do appearances on several OTHER shows, and still managed to find time to keep up with virtually every development in tech and try out tons of software. I don't think he slept.
        • by rlp ( 11898 )
          Leo was one of the hardest working men on television back in those ZDTV days.

          Now he's one of the hardest working men in podcasts / radio. Check out http://www.twit.tv/ [www.twit.tv] (i.e. This Week In Tech) - his podcast empire. Leo helps make my daily commute tolerable.
        • He's still on TV with 'The Lab with Leo', but only in backwards countries like Canada and Australia. It's not live, though.
  • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:12AM (#19886445) Homepage
    What could a third party VOIP telco really do to make a more reliable service when they don't control the line. Here's my idea, have a protocol that automatically detects dropped packets, and lowers the bitrate until there's not so many dropped packets, or none at all. Personally, I'd rather hear someone at 8 kbps then hear them at 128 kbps with every other word dropped from the conversation. It might sound like a bad kids walkie-talkie you bought at Walmart, but it's better than dropping words. And if you explain to your users why they are getting bad audio quality, and recommend ISPs in their area that don't have problems with maintaining good connections, then you can help to give the big telcos a reason to give good service to their customers.

    Also, make all the features free. Call waiting, call answer, call forwarding, call filtering, and whatever other features you can think up. Telcos charge a lot of money for these extras. By making them free (including them in the monthly rate), you're offering customers a big incentive switch from the other guys. And since most of these features cost very little once they are initially developed, it's a wonder why you would even want to charge for them.
    • It's tough for numerous reasons.

      -The quality of service is dependent on the cable provider being consistent.
      -Even if the provider is good, there is no prioritizing for VOIP on the cable modem, which is a huge advantage for cable companies who want to do their own VOIP. Some will even give a little bit more upstream for VOIP users.
      -Some providers use their own routers (like Vonage). A lot depend on ethernet adapters. Routers that are not configured properly or are overloaded/old (and cannot handle the tr
    • by mpapet ( 761907 )
      What could a third party VOIP telco really do to make a more reliable service when they don't control the line.

      First of all, good for you for throwing some ideas out. What most people fail to understand is the VOIP protocol is **loaded** with features. The clients (and vonage) simply haven't caught up in most cases.

      Second, the whole notion that a voip provider doesn't "own the lines" is a joke. Yes, somewhere lots of telco promoters are using this crazy idea to inject FUD into the notion that consumers c
      • Slashdot (./ as you call it) works withing controlling the line. However, sometimes it takes 30 seconds for the page to load, some times it only takes 5. Regardless of how fast their servers can send the pages, sometimes there's just little slowdowns along the way that they can't control. When visiting a web page, 30 seconds of lag doesn't make it unusable. It's kind of annoying but you still get to see the web pages. When you're doing VOIP, you need the packets to get to their destination within a cer
        • by mpapet ( 761907 )
          sometimes there's just little slowdowns along the way that they can't control.

          That my friend is the nature of the beast when it comes to voip. While the goal of a 1:1 translation of POTS service/quality is commendable, most consumers will gladly exchange lower quality calls for some combination of lower prices and more service.

          Comparing Slashdot to VOIP is a really bad comparison because one requires very low lag times, while the other could care less.

          No. The disconnect for you may be that you have experie
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:12AM (#19886449) Homepage
    I have broadvoice and on a regular schedule Verizon happens to "lose" the routing information to my local Broadvoice phone number. It just magically disappears and suddenly people calling my phone get a "this number can not be dialed" message.

    I end up calling broadvoice letting them know and they have to jump through hoops to get Verizon to quit acting like a 3 year old and put the routing info back in. This happens twice yearly. I also hear of it happening elsewhere as well with providers other than Broadvoice.

    Telcos are scared to death of Voip. It sounds way better than cellphones so the current generation see it as great. They also see the $13.95 a month compared to the $49.95 a month from a telco and it's a no brainer. (Yes My VoIP line costs $13.95 a month. Yes Verizon charges $50.00 a month for a basic, every call costs you $0.03 + long distance charges phone line.)

    So the telcos screw with the Voip providers, "accidentally".
    • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

      It sounds way better than cellphones so the current generation see it as great

      That part I've never understood. My cellphone works just about everywhere. If you are a big talker and can shift some of your calling to nights & weekends (easy to do when all of your friends have cell phones too) then it often winds up costing you $0.015 - $0.03/minute to use a cell phone to make all your calls. Toss in the fact that you can use it just about anywhere and you aren't fighting your neighbors torrent of the Sopranos for bandwidth and I don't see what advantage there is to VoIP.

      T-Mo

      • And they can't do CDMA over IP?
        • by Shakrai ( 717556 )

          And they can't do CDMA over IP?

          I'm sure they can, but there isn't a published standard for it as far as I'm aware, so they'd be building it from scratch. UMA/GMA [wikipedia.org] has been around for awhile.

          AT&T could implement a UMA network pretty easily but I doubt they will, as it would undercut their landline business.

        • CDMA is a physical layer protocol. You wouldn't ever do CDMA "over" IP.

          You might want to have a phone that's able to transmit a CDMA signal and *also* an 802.11 signal, so you could connect to cell networks and LANs with the same device. If your network were coordinated well enough such that you could transfer calls between VOIP and the cellular network, that would be a big step, and seems to be what the grandparent was talking about.

      • That part I've never understood. My cellphone works just about everywhere. If you are a big talker and can shift some of your calling to nights & weekends (easy to do when all of your friends have cell phones too) then it often winds up costing you $0.015 - $0.03/minute to use a cell phone to make all your calls. Toss in the fact that you can use it just about anywhere and you aren't fighting your neighbors torrent of the Sopranos for bandwidth and I don't see what advantage there is to VoIP.

        Some of u

    • by NateTech ( 50881 )
      Those "accidents" are probably real. I work for a telco manufacturer (not a telco) and I can count the number of people I've dealt with in the last five years that really understand telco networks on just over one hand.

      Telco's aren't "scared to death of VoIP". They're using it, in the back-end of the networks, probably where it really belongs. In controlled environments. The number of people using VoIP for home service isn't significantly changing their backbone traffic, which someone pays them for, eit
  • Attracting subscribers can put a start-up deep into the red. Vonage added 166,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2007, but lost $77 million."

    I'm not surprised - Vonage gave me $200 to sign up (CC Giftcard)for a year at $14.95/month; netting them $80 (assuming they paid full price for the CC card and don't kickback anything to CC for the signup)for the year. I was nice, I didn't take their free PAP I simply canceled my existing Vonage service and activated the new number on my existing PAP. Strange w
  • Turnover? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by garcia ( 6573 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:20AM (#19886523)
    Vonage added 166,000 subscribers in the first quarter of 2007, but lost $77 million.

    The turnover rate for Vonage is very high from what I've read. Is that added subscriber number on top of their pre-existing user base or is it just what they added in the first quarter? They could be hemorrhaging faster than they can bring in.
    • by glindsey ( 73730 )
      Oh, don't worry... Vonage makes sure people can't quit their service by keeping you on hold for over a half-hour, claiming that their "computers are down" when you finally get to a person, and then hanging up on you.
      • by dattaway ( 3088 )
        I can confirm Vonage's sleazy retention game. You forgot the very thick accent of the person that you eventually reach after an hour's worth of pushbutton and wait hell. Not to mention the poor bitrate of their offshored support location. I had to get the message across by putting the bills in dispute with my credit card company. Vonage does NOT want to have complaints on their merchant accounts. The day after they discovered they couldn't bill me, I got a call the NEXT day by someone who spoke ENGLISH
  • I suppose SunRocket should have followed the wise words of Homer Simpson.

    "You tried your best, and you failed miserably. The lesson is: never try."
  • "...since they don't own the lines, they can't control the quality of service..."

    If you didn't get your DSL through Ameritech, (the only game in town around here,) you were pretty much guaranteed that your DSL service would be down at least 2 weeks straight every other billing period. Nothing your ISP could do about it except stall, hoping Ameritech would fix "the lines." At the very least, I think Ameritech was sandbagging, at worst, and I believe the worst, Ameritech was deliberately shutting off servic
    • This is also true in the discount cell phone market: Secondary cell carriers like a former employer of mine were completely at the mercy of the monopolistic local Baby Bell, Ameritech^H SBC^H AT&T.
  • no more voice mail (Score:5, Informative)

    by Orcish_Rodent ( 665783 ) <aroden@iupui.TOKYOedu minus city> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:44AM (#19886697)
    I am/was a Sunrocket subscriber. Everything was really great, one year and 9 months of everything just working for $200 a year. Right now the phone still works, I can call and be called by people. However, the voice mail is gone both the message box on the website and the ability to leave messages when calling me (it just rings forever). I'm guessing all my old messages are toast too. When calling customer service (800-786-0132) you get a message the last part in an almost robotic voice,

    "Sunrocket! The no Gotcha phone company! ... We are no longer taking customer service or sales calls. Goodbye."

    Well I am out 2.5 months service, I guess they learned how to "get" me.
    • Crap, same thing for here and I've been with them since 2005.

      But my service plan got renewed in MAY so I'm out 10 months of service!!! That makes my monthly cost 600/26 instead of 600/36 = $23 instead of $17.

      Oh well, they were still a great deal while they were around. I loved the international calling rates.
    • by NateTech ( 50881 )
      You paid a lower-than-sustainable price for the service and they went under. They didn't "get you", you got yourself.
  • I have been a SunRocket customer for almost a year now and the service has been awesome. In addition to the much cheaper rates than Vonage, the voice quality IMHO was excellent in spite of "not controlling the lines" as well as the customer service. Bye SunRocket. :-(
  • by SailorMeeko ( 204259 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:50AM (#19886767) Homepage
    I've been a subscriber to Vonage for a few years now. Although I am happy with their service, I don't use the phone that much, so SunRocket's package that was something like $9.99/month for 200 minutes was very attractive to me and for the past couple of months I have been meaning to change my service to them. Every week I keep telling myself, "Ok, this week I will move from Vonage to SunRocket", but the procrastinator in me kept putting it off. Now I'm glad I didn't change.

    Moral of the story: Procrastination pays off.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @10:12AM (#19886937) Homepage Journal
    I have AT&T CallVantage, their VoIP offering, against my will. My employer installs and pays for it.

    It is SHIT.

    The voice quality is average at best. The reliability is horrendous. At any time and for any reason the entire service drops out - nothing no dialtone, nothing. Inbound calls route straight to voicemail about 50% of the time.

    AT&T's tech 'support' is very simple - they tell you the only thing to do is to install he TA in front of the router behind the cable modem. But the Centillium MTA-1 is a locked down box and it's configured as a NAT device so it fucks up my Homelan every time someone looks for a DHCP refresh. So I have to put it behind the router instead and because of that tech 'support' won't 'support' it. It also consumes a great deal of bandwidth - about 128k. That's a LOT for quality that isn't crystal fucking clear. That's the same as two ISDN channels and for that much bandwidth I should be able to hear you sleeping on the other end.

    Phone companies will kill VoIP just like they have killed everything else. They'll crush all comers and then do what they do best. Fuck up the service and rape the customers.
  • I gotta say I'm very sad about this. Sunrocket was awesome, I was paying $15/month for them, and I never had any problems with their service.

    I guess now we all gotta figure out what to switch to... apparently http://www.viatalk.com/ [viatalk.com] offers to take on any Sunrocket customers at $200/year.
    • I'm also very upset about SunRocket's demise particularly considering that I moved over from Vonage after a disappointing experience with their quality of service (and yes, it was their service not my ISP because I had no other cable problems) and the quality of their customer (dis)service.

      Looking at ViaTalk I'm glad to see that coverage is available in my area and that it's list of included features is longer even than both Vonage and SunRocket put together! ViaTalk looks very promising indeed and if S

  • Marketing Failure? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by DCheesi ( 150068 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @11:41AM (#19888137) Homepage
    So this is (was) the #2 VoIP company behind Vonage? So why is it that I've never even heard of them?! Granted, I've never actually gone shopping for VoIP service. But I am involved in the telecomm/datacom industry, so you'd think I would have at least heard the name.

    Perhaps lack of visibility was part of their problem...?
    • Perhaps lack of visibility was part of their problem...?

      I have Sunrocket service, and it's actually thanks to Slashdot--this was the first place I had heard of them (someone here got a referral bonus from me). Now that I've had the service for a year and half, I've seen them advertising on various websites, but they've never done TV advertising like Vonage. I'm not sure that Vonage has the best plan either though, because they're spending so much money on advertising that they lost $77M last quarter desp

    • by NateTech ( 50881 )
      Same here. Been in telco over a decade, and had never hear of 'em.

      They must have had some real dolts in Marketing... that or never had enough budget to really make a go of it, anyway.

      Hey some people got some crappy phone service at lower-than-sustainable prices for a little while. Isn't that what everyone was screaming for when Judge Green broke up the Bell System?

      You GOT it, America. Congratulations! Competition means that some companies DO NOT SURVIVE, especially if they don't have a sustainable busin
  • by Isaac-Lew ( 623 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @01:01PM (#19889405)
    (Note: I left after a year in October 2006, after things really started going downhill).

    Basically, there's not one bigreason SunRocket went under, but rather a few smaller reasons that added up. The main one being that there was too much focus on bringing in management from the outside (mostly from AOL) instead of promoting from within. Also, employee retention was a big problem. When you start seeing early employees of the company quitting or getting fired, it's very demoralizing to those still there.

    I ended up leaving after I was involuntarily transferred to another department (which was supposed to be temporary, but my requests to go back to my previous department were ignored), I had a director-level non-techie jerk that had been hired from outside SunRocket placed as my immediate supervisor, and they decided to blow hundreds of thousands of dollars on network monitoring software when we in the process of doing the same thing with Nagios [nagios.org] and/or OpenNMS [opennms.org] & saved big money.

    To all of the former customers of SunRocket, as well as anyone considering hiring a former SunRocket employee: just about all of the non-management folks (especially the support personnel based in the US, & the technical groups) were the most competent group of people I have ever worked with, and the majority of them did care about providing the best VOIP service possible.

    • Something you should keep in mind on the 'outside management' front.
      When a company is looking for the next round of VC funding .. Management, [somewhat on the director level, but mostly higher] is very important in a VC's decision to give you more money.

      So what you, someone who is working on the floor, might have interpreted as a rush to hire outside management from a big company - might actually have been a play to make the company more 'fundable' in a VC's eyes.

      Additionally, as much as its great to think
  • ... as long as there is the last-mile monopoly.

    the SnR on my Qwest DSL line varies enough that i'll go days at a time with line-retrains every 3 minutes due to "crc_error threshhold exceeded". Years ago, I ditched the ISP supplied product ( an ActionTec 1524, which tended to hard-lock every 36 hours, and didn't support basic features like _port forwarding_ properly ) and got a cisco 678 off of ebay. I've called before and the gist is somewhere between "we're not seeing any problems here" and "it must be o
  • Yesterday, we remarked at my house that the phone was down. We felt it a temporary issue and left it at that.

    Today, we found out that the service was down because the company was dead. We didn't find out from anyone at SunRocket, we found out on Slashdot. On SLASHDOT! And so far, no luck in contacting support about "Hey fuckers, we just paid you, how about a fucking refund!?".

    I think we got gipped.

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