SunRocket’s sunset

What a difference a day makes. Just yesterday, I had mentioned to a friend that SunRocket was a great value for internet phone service. At just $199 for a year of unlimited local and long distance VOIP (voice over internet protocol) service, it was arguably one of the least expensive telephone plans available.

At least it was. This morning I discovered that SunRocket has gone out of business. Kaput. Belly up. Bye-bye birdy.

This was confirmed by The New York Times, which reported that SunRocket “has ceased operation and is moving its customers to one or more other companies.” Yet many SunRocket customers have posted on Digg that their SunRocket phone service has stopped working, without any warning.

My SunRocket phone service this morning is flakey, but not completely out, at least not yet. I still have a dial tone, but I’m finding that outgoing calls don’t always go through on the first try. I suspect that the various vendors that SunRocket uses to provision their VOIP service are staggering the service disruptions, and that in some states there may be regulatory roadblocks that are keeping some services afloat.

According to this Reuters report, SunRocket is “the second biggest U.S. supplier of Internet phone services,” with more than 200,000 customers. Only industry-leader Vonage has more customers, but they have been bleeding red ink lately, and their stock price has seen a persistent decline.

Thankfully, I paid for my current year of SunRocket service on a credit card less than 60 days ago. As a result, this morning I was able to request a charge dispute with my credit card company. The nice woman on the phone told me that she had been getting a lot of calls this morning disputing SunRocket charges, and she was able to issue me a pro-rated credit of the disputed amount.

My advice to anyone who has SunRocket service now is to call your credit card company. Calls to the SunRocket office won’t help, as they just have a recording stating that they are no longer accepting sales or customer service calls. Some technically inclined folks may be interested in these directions to unlock the SunRocket Gizmo in order to use it with ViaTalk or other VOIP services. But personally, I’m planning to switch my phone service to Verizon FIOS as soon as possible.

Update: Vonage is now offering a special deal to provide service to SunRocket refugees. See the feed from the PR Newswire below…

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