Ever since I wrote about my interest in learning more about T-Mobile @ Home experiences a few weeks back, I've been getting notes via email from many a reader who like me has had AT&T's CallVantage service. I've also seen blog posts like this one, from others who were part of the early testing programs like me that AT&T executed so well with bloggers and journalists.
Just this week, as I reported, the letters regarding its near term demise are being received by CallVantages faithful customers. Just like the "geniuses" of Time Warner killed AOL Phone Line, simply to sell VoIP over Cable, AT&T made a decision in 2008 that Uverse needs to be the product that delivers VoIP in their market areas, thus forsaking customers in the rest of the nation who have had no complaints about the service and who have been paying their bills.
Let's face it, the service was the best on the market, hands down. No one knew it was VoIP if you didn't tell them, and in its heyday the service when being marketing by a team of telephony veterans who weren't either shackled or being bridled were making history. They developed and marketed a game changing product.
Now consumers and small office/home office workers (like me) are faced with finding other alternatives of proven, quality voice providers which also offer the suite of services and quality of service that CallVantage delivered. By having AT&T's infrastructure and network, the service started out better. AT&T's peering relationships with the cable operators and other telcos certainly gave them a leg up from everyone else. No other independent operator could match that, which was why I found only the AOL offering and later, Earthlink's True Voice to be in the same league as CallVantage. To put it bluntly, AT&T's offering made Vonage look and sound like tin cans and wires as it was better than the PSTN, so no one knows it's a VoIP call.
I don't know when my service ends, but the letters all say sometime in 2009. I'm trying to explore Uverse but there are some issues, most around alarm monitoring and having the telephone wires routed to my new data closet. We'll see how far that goes. Given I have a T1 from Covad and rock solid cable carrier supplied Internet, I may end up with simply my landline being PSTN or Cable company VoIP just for 911 purposes.
All my calls at this point go over any number of VoIP carriers and the quality I'm seeing from those that have taken the time to work with the better networks is good enough for business. The concern I have with all of them, is simply not wanting to lose my phone number should one of them go out of business. To AT&T's credit, if you are losing CallVantage service, you can port your number. I suggest all that are affected think about moving their number to a service like Junction Networks. I did that with a number I previously moved to Vonage and was able to keep the number. Junction Networks offers a lot of what SOHO business needs via either SIP Trunking or their OnSip service. Other options would be inPhonex, BroadVoice or VoicePulse. Each has of these four companies possesses solid technology and management, are professional with their customer service and are run by nice folks who have always been responsive and courteous in my dealings with them over the years.