Vonage has opened up a new front in its war with Verizon, launching a new website at FreeToCompete.com and taking out full-page ads in the nation’s largest newspapers. Corporate PR campaigns tend to use overheated rhetoric, but I can’t really disagree with this:
Today, Vonage is facing one telecom giant — Verizon — in court as they try to to achieve in court what it cannot achieve in the marketplace. We can assure you that whatever the outcome of this legal dispute (which may take several years to fully resolve), Vonage is committed to serving all of our customers and to affordably connect family, friends and colleagues for years to come. But make no mistake: Verizon’s actions against us have everything to do with limiting your freedom to choose a communications provider — a limitation which may ultimately drive up the cost of phone service for you and other U.S. consumers. (In fact, Verizon recently raised their prices.) Verizon has chosen to attack Vonage in the courts and threaten consumers’ freedom to choose. Could it be about the money? In a truly fair, free market economy, neither Verizon — nor anyone else — should be able to cripple or eliminate companies seeking to provide more (and better) alternatives.
Unfortunately, I think Vonage faces an uphill battle getting the general public to pay attention to the issue. Patents are a sufficiently complex and esoteric subject that Verizon has plenty of ways to obfuscate the real issues in the case. And it doesn’t help that press accounts of the dispute are so scrupulously even-handed that they give credibility to Verizon’s question-begging claim that Vonage “is trying to shift the subject from their bad and now declared illegal behavior.” It would be nice reporters would plainly state the obvious: that Verizon is seeking a legal monopoly over the VoIP market.