Sunday, September 30, 2007

Montel Williams Teams Up with CallingCards.com

In one of the first celebrity endorsements I have seen in the phone card business in a while (dating back to the Bollywood days), Montel Williams has created a partnership with callingcards.com to promote free calling card giveaways.

While not a high level celebrity, it should give them some good buzz and a little more website traffic!

Check out the site here....

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Phone Card Commercial - Week 17

While not exactly a phone card commercial, this is a marketing piece that Nobel put together to help sell thri services. A little long but because they are a major player in the phone card business I thought they were deserving for this spot!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Intelecard Website Sucks!

Pardon the blunt title but this just has to be said... the Intelecard website used to be a great place to read some insightful articles and get business listings but if you go there today it looks like my 4 year old nephew is designing the thing! All of the images are out of whack, half the pages say under construction, and those pages that aren't under construction have about 3 words of text.

My guess is that business is not so good for them and they had to cut back on areas that are not producing enough revenue and the web is definitely one of those areas. They most likely got rid of their web designer and have someone internal doing it with little knowledge and abilities.

It's a real shame!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

More Bad News For Vonage!

Less than 48 hours after the ruling against Vonage in the Sprint Nextel patent lawsuit, Vonage got more bad news in the announcement that their appeal of the Verizon 55 million dollar patent infringement suit was denied. However, they did manage a small victory in that there were originally three patents they had been found to be violating but the courts sent back one of them for further review. If they manage to get the third patent violation dismissed, they will likely only have to pay around 40 million in damages. It is also still a possibility that the amount could be changed, since the judge asked for the damages payout to be re-examined as well!

Either way Vonage is looking at paying tens of millions of dollars to Verizon and a company in their battered state would be hard pressed to survive a payout like that!

Their stocks also took a beating dropping below $1 a share for the first time ever ($0.99).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Vonage Found to be Infringing on 6 Sprint Patents

Vonage just lost a patent infringement case brought by Sprint/Nextel. The lawsuit claimed that Vonage had knowingly used technology that was patented by Sprint - Nextel and the court agreed finding Vonage liable for approximately $69.5 million (5% of Vonage's revenues during the time period). Vonage plans to appeal the ruling but has already started on workarounds on the technology in question.

This marks the second major loss in court by Vonage this year , loosing a similar patent infringement case to Verizon (they are still appealing that multi million dollar verdict against them). The news just can't be good for them and their long term survival.

Their stock price fell by 33% today on the news of this loss (started at $1.99 per share and ended at $1.20 per share). If Vonage is forced to pay either of these amounts, the company will no doubt have to file for bankruptcy protection.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Women Fights Verizon Over Charges and Wins!

A women of Indian decent living in Florida was very surprised one day when she received a bill from Verizon for $590 for calls to India, Colorado and New Jersey. For the two years she has been living in the US, she has been using one particular calling card ("Mother India") to make all of her long distance calls. Verizon claims she absolutely made these calls but she fought back and said she didn't use them and there was no way she could make a mistake since she had been using the same access number for two years. Plus the woman says the Colorado and New Jersey calls prove this bill is false since they don't know anyone in those states.

She made many calls to Verzion customer service but go nowhere until she finally contacted a media outlet in south Florida. As soon as the media outlet contacted them they credited her account for those disputed calls.

Not saying this women is lying but having been in this business for a while, I can't tell you how many times I heard people calling into the calling card customer service department saying that their local phone company charged them for calls they made using our phone card. But 9 out of 10 times it is usually due to user error, forgetting to dial the access number and just dialing directly. It is possible that Verizon made a mistake but more possible that she made a mistake.

The full news story can be viewed at http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=63720

Friday, September 21, 2007

Phone Card Commercial - Week 16

A well done foereign commercial for phone cards.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Barron's Articles Put IDTs Future in a Bad Light!

Most of us have been well aware of IDTs recent hardships as made evident through their last few quarters of poor performance but a recent Barron's article paints a desperate picture for IDTs future.

In a series of two articles this month, "A Troubled Telecom Falls Further" and "Bad Signals" Barrons has really painted a bleak picture of IDTs future. The basic premise is that while IDT has been saved by it's large cash reserve in recent years, it looks as if IDT will need to keep using that cash reserve. So much so that Barrons predicts it will run out of cash in as little as two years. It even hints that the executives are most likely not too confident in the companies future since they seem to be selling off their shares at a much more regular interval.

The articles aren't scathing and put most of the blame for IDTs problems on the rise in wireless and VOIP as the popular long distance calling methods. It also points to IDTs huge losses from its purchase of Winstar, a transaction for which they are now suing over based on false promises and bad information.

While this information should come as nothing new to industry insiders, it does place a heavy wake up call to the real future of a once dominant telecom company.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Nobel Expands It's Online Calling Card Business Into the UK

As an online calling card retailer myself, I have to say I am envious of Nobel for their recent announcement of an expansion into the UK online calling card market. Next to the US, this is probably the next biggest calling card market in the world.

Nobel will be launching the web site Nobelcom.co.uk in the coming weeks and they should have no problem replicating their US success even though the UK market is fairly well saturated. In their business it's all about online advertising and implementing a strong organic search engine strategy as well as a sound PPC campaign.

With the calling card market getting more competitive here in the US, a lot of people have turned to other products and services, like prepaid mobile, voip services and prepaid cash cards to make up for the lost phone card revenue but in my mind going outside of the US is probably the best way to expand and/or keep your business growing. Some other markets of interest for phone cards are: Canada, Australia, Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal and Germany.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Phone Card Commercial - Week 15

A strange but different commercial for the Homies phone card.

Friday, September 07, 2007

The Decline of the Pay Phone Industry

When I first started in Telecom back in the 1990s I remember when a large percentage of phone card calls were made via local pay phones but with the rise in cellular phone and the ease of acquiring one, came the demise of the pay phone industry.

According to the FCC website there were over 2 million pay phones throughout the US. Now, 10 years later, that number is half of what it once was, with a little over 1 million total pay phones still in existence. The number of calls made has also decreased dramatically from over 2.5 billion in 1997 to around 1.7 billion.

While you will still find many Mexicans and other recent immigrant groups waiting on the corner pay phones because they don't have the credit ability to qualify for a home or cellular phone, I think that with rise in popularity of prepaid mobile, many of these loyal pay phone users will switch to prepaid cell phones for all of their calling needs, leaving the pay phone operators in a much worse situation than they are in now!

One thing worth noting is that much of the decline in pay phones comes from the private pay phone operator sector with the public companies like AT&T and Verizon only making up for a smaller percentage of the decline. Today private pay phone operators make up exactly half of overall pay phones on the street.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Adult Film Company Vivid Entertainment Gets Into Prepaid

Fear not Mr. NO CREDIT CARD sometime in the near future you will be seing prepaid cash cards hanging up in the convienience stores that will allow you to purchase Vivid Adult Entertainment products from the vivid.com website.

The service is being offered through DGC PrePaid, a company that was formed just for the purpose of bringing prepaid to the adult entertainment industry, and will be available in both POSA and active cards. It is going to start at around $15 and POSA users will be able to add more at the time of activation.

Ahhh Prepaid Porn at last! ;)

You all knew this was coming but my question is how many retail outlets will carry such a thing?

You can read the full press release here: Vivid Prepaid Cards

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Phone Card Commercial - Week 14

A Spansih language phone card commercial.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

IDT Appoints New CFO

Only 5 months after IDT appointed Stephen Brown as the CFO, they have a change in that position yet again. Marc J. Oppenheimer is the new CFO and will be responsible for turning the wayward ship around. Former CFO Brown will continue to serve in some role in the company but obviously a huge demotion for him and most likely a reflection of the companies disatisfaction.

Oppenheimer has been a board member of IDT for several years and should intergrate smoothly into this position as a result.