In response to what it saw as growing demand for outbound international calling from the U.S., New Jersey-based IP communications services provider Vonage debuted, an international calling plan in the summer of 2009. In the ensuing time roughly a million subscribers signed up for that plan: Vonage World.
“We recognized that international calling was growing,” Vonage senior vice president of product management Mike Tempora told Enterprise VoIPplanet, “but the pricing for international calling hadn’t changed all that much. So we took the opportunity to introduce unlimited calling to 60-plus countries, and it was met very favorably by customers, who bought it in large numbers—particularly in the Asian/Indian community.”
Last week, Vonage announced a new plan: Vonage World Premium. Premium expands on World, offering unlimited landline calling to destinations in 80 countries.
More to the point, Premium also provides unlimited calling to mobile phones in 42 countries (compared to 10 for the World plan), including much of Latin America, most of Western Europe, and a number of destinations in the Middle and Far East. (See the complete list here.)
“When we launched, Vonage World, one of the big focuses was the Asian/Indian community,” Tempora said. “Over the last six months to a year, though, we have expanded our service to Hispanic customers—we now have Hispanic sales centers and customer care. This particular offer, World Premium, was aimed at better serving that community by expanding unlimited calling to mobile phone destinations in Mexico, Colombia, Dominican Republic, and Brazil. So it really lines up with our focus on the Hispanic market—serving them better.”
According to Tempora, the design of World Premium reflects changing expectations for telephony. In the pre-mobile era, callers knew they were calling a location—one where the person they wanted to speak with would likely be.
“These days,” Tempora told VoIPplanet, “when people make an international call—or any call, really—they expect to reach a person, not a location. So, World Premium really gives callers to those Hispanic destinations—as well as UK, France, and Spain—the freedom to call who they want to call and not worry about whether they’re home or on their mobile. They can contact their friends and family outside the United States without having to worry about being charged extra.”
International Vonage calls travel over the company’s own network and are terminated with carriers within the local markets. Vonage established all those relationships by direct negotiation with the local carriers, thus ensuring the best pricing.
The World Premium plan will set customers back $54.99 a month (plus fees and taxes), compared to $25.99 for World, but Tempora stressed that anyone who makes regular international calls—especially to mobile phones—will save a substantial amount of money.
“Customers who use World Premium Unlimited to call as little as one hour a week to mobile phones in countries like Mexico and the UK will save over $400 a year versus the best pay-per-minute rates from major phone companies.”