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Phone firm's closing leaves local provider vying to fill the void

The unexpected and unannounced closure of a Virginia-based voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) phone company left thousands of area clients without phone service last week.

When Internet phone carrier SunRocket closed its doors Monday, terminating its service, all clients heard when they called was we are no longer taking customer service or sales calls. Goodbye.

Now, clients' money and phone numbers hang in limbo.

The national media instantly swarmed on SunRocket, the country's second-largest VoIP company, behind Vonage Holdings, upon news of the closing. And scores of clients who had spent $199 on a year's service contract began shopping around for new phone service.

Calls have been non-stop to Menands-based VoIP company, Voiceral. They, along with a slew of competitors, are vying for the business of more than 200,000 disenfranchised SunRocket Internet phone clients nationwide.

To land former SunRocket clients, Voiceral is offering three months of free service, no activation fees and free overnight shipping of VoIP device.

"It looks like they basically ran out of money. My guess is that there are about 2,000 SunRocket customers in the area. They're done. These people are literally without service," said Voiceral chief executive officer and company co-founder, David Conboy.

Attempts to contact SunRocket were unsuccessful.

Conboy said the company has been the talk of the industry for a while now.

SunRocket was one of the service's lowest cost providers.

According to Conboy, SunRocket had allegedly been in negotiations with several potential buyers for a while. The company closed shop after final negotiations with a potential buyer failed, said Conboy. An Associated Press story stated the company headquarters in Tyson's Corner, Va., closed Monday, July 16. A cardboard sign hung on the door read "Out of Business."

Voiceral entered the Internet phone business in November 2005. It's a business riddled with thin profit margins and highly competitive pricing, said Conboy. The company serves clients in New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and New Jersey.

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