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Vonage expands UK service

But gets into hot water with the state of Texas

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Voice over Internet Protocol(VoIP) provider Vonage is expanding services to 100 cities in the UK, including Leeds, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Preston and Salisbury.

Residential customers pay £9.99 a month for unlimited calls to UK and Ireland fixed lines. Small business customers can pay £18.99 a month for unlimited calls to fixed lines in the UK and Ireland, plus a fax line with 500 local and national minutes.

Vonage claims 550,000 customers in the US and aims for the same number in the UK within a year.

Meanwhile in the US Vonage has fallen foul of regulators in Texas. There was a big kerfuffle when VoIP services first launched as to whether they should be regulated like traditional telcos. Such regulations typically include guarantees of service levels, guaranteed access to emergency numbers and requirements for broad network coverage so people living in rural areas were not discriminated against.

The state of Minnesota took action against Vonage back in 2003 to force it to follow traditional telco regulations. The Federal Communications Commission ruled that individual states cannot regulate VoIP providers.

But Texas ain't so sure. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is taking action against Vonage accusing them of deceptive marketing practises. Abbott says the firm did not make it clear to customers that they would not be able to make emergency 911 calls.

Customers in the UK should not have such problems because all Vonage services here include access to emergency numbers.

Vonage counters that US customers are told at least twice that they will not be able to make emergency calls unless they activate the service. More details on Infoworld here.®

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