Confused by the FiOS pending VOIP offer

In what seems like typical Verizon marketing, the soon to launch FiOS Digital Voice VOIP service will not be very price competitive, but rather play catch up to features already present in long standing consumer VOIP solutions … I’m wondering why someone would choose to pay an additional $15 (at least) per moth to get access to this.

I currently pay $29.99/service with Cablevision now that I have voice, data and television. FiOS offers a similar bundling opportunity though I have yet to see anything about how bundling multiple services will change the possible price here.

“It’s a customer retention and a customer acquisition tool,” said Benigno Gonzalez, executive director of FiOS products.

The service transmits phone calls using Internet protocols, as cable telephone services do, and Verizon is using in-home copper wiring so customers can simply use their existing phone jacks.

FiOS Digital Voice includes standard features like caller ID and voicemail, and provides Web access to messages. It also has enhanced capabilities that aren’t available with traditional phone services, such as scheduled call-forwarding (also known as “follow me”), the ability to ring multiple phone numbers simultaneously (e.g., both home and mobile phone), phone-book synchronization and click-to-dial.

“These are voice services we have been lacking,” Gonzalez said. “We think this will be a real enhancement to voice service.”

It’s also Verizon’s attempt to slow the hemorrhaging in what historically has been its core business. As with other telcos, Verizon has lost millions of telephone customers in recent years.

As of Sept. 30, Verizon had 21.6 million switched residential access lines, down 12% from 24.6 million a year ago. Analysts attribute the steady erosion to customers replacing landlines with mobile phones or cable voice services.

Verizon is offering two calling plans with FiOS Digital Voice: one that provides unlimited direct-dialed, domestic calling (including calls to U.S. territories, Canada and Puerto Rico) for a flat monthly rate; and a per-minute plan with domestic calls 5 cents per minute.

Gonzalez said pricing for the service would be in line with Verizon’s current calling plans. The telco’s Freedom Essentials unlimited-calling plan is $44.99 to $49.99 per month, with bundled discounts available.

On the discussion site in September, a user who claimed to be a Verizon customer in an area where FiOS Digital Voice had become available posted an image of the service’s pricing, showing the unlimited-calling plan at $44.99 per month, and the per-minute plan at $14.99 per month plus calling charges. [Multichannel News]

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