Startup Launching VoIP in Three Markets Today

A startup founded by former MCI executives is launching Voice over IP service in three markets this week.

SunRocket’s service went live to consumers in Baltimore, Boston and
Washington, D.C. this week and plans to be in all major U.S. markets
year’s end.

The privately held, venture-backed firm is entering a crowded space with deep-pocketed startups (Vonage), telecom giants (Verizon
AT&T) and cable operators (Comcast, Time Warner) already vying
for customers.

Co-founders Paul Erickson and Joyce Dorris said their company will stand
because of its “no-gotcha” approach to dealing with customers.

“SunRocket has a unique package,” Dorris told
the first [VoIP provider] to go with all-inclusive [services], including taxes, that’s a big point with consumers.”

Subscribers pay $24.95 per month with no activation charges or fees.
Like other VoIP services, it requires a DSL or cable modem broadband connection.

Vienna, Va.-based SunRocket provides a dozen calling features including
voicemail, caller ID with name, call waiting, 3-way calling and call
forwarding. Additional benefits include an allotment of free
minutes and two 411 calls per month.

Erickson, who oversaw MCI’s market research for 10 years, said he doesn’t
the Baby Bells and cable giants who are packaging VoIP with broadband
an edge in persuading users to try VoIP.

“One thing is very clear, consumers aren’t looking for more stuff from
company or cable company,” Erickson said, adding that customers are
tired of
getting “nickeled and dimed.”

He pointed to America Online’s success in amassing dial-up customers as
evidence that a simple, usable product can work.

Erickson and Dorris have already convinced some investors. Nokia
Partners, the investment arm of the mobile telecom company, led
initial financing round. The amount raised was not disclosed.

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