VRS Interoperability

VRS Interoperability. 8/30/2014.

Sheri Ann Farinha has been very vocal against Sorenson Communication over the past week because of their refusal (yes, she says flat out refusal) to provide interoperability. There has been a response to her by an Sorenson Communications employee. His name is Bryan Leeper. There are many things that he says in the video that have struck a nerve with people within the community because they know that they are simply not true. Unfortunately for those that don’t do their research they are not going to be able to think about why some things don’t necessarily ring true.

Nobody is going to deny that Sorenson Communications has built a very loyal employee and client base because of some of the things they have done to attract attention. One of those things had to do with how they were paying their employees back in 2004-2006 when they were able to ramp up their positioning. What they did was pay 50 dollars per installation and started on a campus of over 200 deaf students. They basically had their installers go into their rooms  on the first day of orientation all the way through the first month of school. Calculate 50 dollars times 2 students per room times 60+ rooms per floor and Tower A at NTID/RIT had 12 floors. This is also when they were being paid a very high amount of money per VP calls.

This went on for the first two or three years. Fresmen entering RIT had no VP of their own. These are students that are fresh out of high school and having “your own” VP shouts independence. This was the brilliance of provider dominance back when VRS was just coming out. Now, the next thing. This was building up a solid client base. This still goes on today but is not as aggressive as at the beginning. While they dominate 80 percent of the VRS industry, a lot of their dominance is because they were one of the first around. (They were NOT the first VRS provider.)


Now, with more and more reliable providers, they did a lot of things including not enable porting of address book, focused on making everything client centric within their system and not enable changing of phone numbers to another provider. With years of phone numbers being stored in their address book, many people don’t want to have to switch over to another provider. Another thing is the customer relying on being able to leave messages on their friends’ video mail (a feature that came later). Yes, Sorenson is known for their innovation but they are not known for their ability to play in the sandbox with others. Even FCC knows this and has acknowledged this.

Looking at the feature that has led to #VRSinteroperabilityNOW, lets discuss being able to leave video mail on somebody elses’ VP. As the feature has become a necessity, people porting out are learning they can’t leave video mail for their friends/families that have not ported out from Sorenson. This frustration leads to the desire to go back because they are thinking one of two things.

Note by Sheri Ann Farinha. 8/26/2014.

Note by Sheri Ann Farinha. 8/26/2014.

  • This provider is not interoperable! It’s their fault (pointing fingers at the other provider)
  • I can’t afford not to be able to leave a message. I have to go back to Sorenson so I can call my family members and leave a message when I’m not able to discuss things with them.

Bryan says this has nothing to do with their desire to make money from VP calls because point to point calls don’t get money from FCC. He’s right about one thing. Point to point calls don’t make money from FCC. However, if somebody has left Sorenson and gone elsewhere, they are giving the other provider the opportunity to get their actual VP calls. This is where it ties in to the issue of porting your number out. Sorenson has basically lost all chance at getting your business at all. While there’s a way to use another provider’s software and use Sorenson’s interpreters, nobody wants to do all of that work just to be a loyal customer. Nobody is that loyal.

Sheri told people in her video that Sorenson has said it’s not economically feasible to be interoperable. This means, “Sorenson can’t afford to lose more customers because of porting” not “We would have to go back to the dark ages in technology.” With the type of platform technology that is being used, SIP, it doesn’t matter how updated their platform is, they are using SIP. Ask yourselves, is it truly because VRS providers care too much about stiffing innovation or is it about other providers wanting Sorenson to give their clients a choice in which provider they use based on preference not based on the ability to leave a video mail.

And THAT is how they were able to build the 80 percent market share. They have spent millions of dollars (and currently has a 1 billion+ dollar debt) on their customers and can’t afford for you to leave.