Vonage expands unlimited international call offer

Wed Aug 19, 2009 5:15pm EDT

 * Vonage expanding international service to 73 countries
 * Offer costs $24.99 a month
 By Sinead Carew
 NEW YORK, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Vonage Holdings Corp (VG.N)
plans to expand its unlimited international telephone service
to 73 countries in hopes of stemming customer losses and
fending off rivals like eBay Inc's (EBAY.O) Skype or Google Inc
(GOOG.O) as well as more traditional phone companies.
 The Web telephone service provider, which has been losing
out to cell phones and other services, said the offer will
include unlimited international calls and conversion of
voicemails to text form, using a technology from Nuance
Communications Inc (NUAN.O). It costs $24.99 a month,
 Starting Thursday, the service will be expanded to include
countries like India, China and Mexico, among dozens of others.
At the moment, the international plan allows customers
unlimited calls to only about 13 overseas locations.
 However, since many overseas operators charge hefty
termination fees for calls to mobile phones, the service only
allows unlimited calls to cell phones in 15 of the countries.
 Vonage Chief Executive Marc Lefar said the unlimited offer
would attract new customers and help stop existing customers
from leaving as subscribers who use international calling
services tend to stay with Vonage longer.
 "You don't have to be a particularly heavy user of
international calling on a pay-per-minute basis to convert to
our plan ... and see significant savings," Lefar told Reuters
in an interview.
 Lefar said he hoped the offer would attract customers of
traditional rivals such as AT&T Inc (T.N) and Verizon
Communications (VZ.N), as well as customers who use discount
international calling cards, which can frustrate callers by
requiring them to dial long access codes along with the
destination number.
 Vonage users will just dial the number they want to call .
 Lefar, who took the top job at Vonage last summer, said his
company would improve subscriber numbers by launching more new
products such as a mobile phone application that it is planning
to offer by the end of the year.
 "We still need to get the growth engines moving at a faster
rate. Churn still needs to be improved and we think these kind
of offerings will help us do that," he said.
 (Reporting by Sinead Carew, editing by Matthew Lewis)

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