Media Relations: US broadband giant bids for mainstream UK reach

Vonage, North America's biggest broadband communications company, is employing a mass-market media strategy as it launches into UK high-street chains.

Vonage's broadband-delivered telephone service has been available to UK consumers since January, but the US firm is currently in negotiations with high-street consumer electronics chains to establish a retail presence by June.

It will aim to gain coverage outside the technology pages of the nationals and consumer lifestyle media, to reach a broader audience.

'This is not a product for geeks. It's a product for the general domestic market. It's a consumer product, not a computer product,' said Roger Nelson, joint MD of Nelson Bostock, which has been hired to handle PR for Vonage's entry into the UK.

'We will be targeting women's lifestyle press as much as, say, GQ and FHM,' said Nelson, adding that innovations such as digital radio and freeview TV have paved the way for greater coverage of digital technology in women's media.

The campaign will highlight the cost benefits as well as the additional flexibility and functionality of broadband-delivered telephony.

Vonage UK MD Kerry Ritz said the task would be to create the category in the UK and PR would therefore include an element of targeting early adopters.

But Ritz insisted that with broadband penetration in the UK expected to rise from current levels of six and a half million to ten million by the end of 2006, Vonage's potential customer base is broad.

Vonage has a 40 per cent share of the Voice over Internet Protocol market in North America with more than 600,000 customers.

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