Traffic, Weather, Time, Vonage, and You
I should probably clarify something I said in my last post about Qwest providing traffic and weather information. I believe the weather information is provided through the information service described in the Yellow Pages. You can also get a boatload of other information on their information service, including the time. Personally, I can never remember how to access that service, let alone the time, so I often resort to calling something like 408-POP-CORN from my mobile phone, which brings up ye olde time number in California. Simple, familiar (being from California), and effective.
Washington State Department of Transportation actually provides the “511” traffic information service. As I recall, CalTrans offers a similar service in California. Any landline or mobile phone in either of these locations can use this service free of charge, and they are more than adequate. Last I checked, I could not dial 511 from Vonage or many other Internet telephony service providers. Fortunately, WSDOT also provides this service via an 800 number.
But back to Vonage for a moment. I’ve got a suggestion for something that Vonage could easily do. It’s not particularly innovative. It would take some work on their end, but it would undoubtedly win them customers. Vonage should understand the dialing patterns in each location and make it work exactly like it does on the PSTN. Way back when, you had to dial 11 digits for all calls. Now they offer 7 digit dialing. Great. Some areas went 10 digit dialing eons ago, but I don’t think they offer that. It’s either 7 or 11.
Bottom line: if Vonage or other companies are going to win customers, they are going to have to make it work exactly like it does with a regular phone line. That means:
- Supported dialing patters must be identical to that of a PSTN line in the same location. That means supporting 7, 10, 11-digit dialing as appropriate for the area (and many areas have different rules on this).
- Local “special” numbers like 511, 711, etc, must function as on the PSTN.
- 911 simply has to work.
These features aren’t innovative, but to get the masses to accept the service, it must function exactly like that which is being replaced. Right now it does not do that, and Vonage could easily change that if they wanted to.