The Engadget Interview: Jeffrey Citron, chairman and CEO of Vonage
Posted by Peter Rojas
We recently sat down with Jeffrey Citron, the chairman and CEO of
Vonage, to talk about the future of Voice over IP, whether or not
Skype is their number one competitor, Vonage's wireless strategy,
and how they’re responding to the recent controversy over VoIP and
E911 calling. Oh, and for all the Treo fans out there, we also asked
them how much longer we're going to have to wait until we see a
version of Vonage's softphone client for the Palm OS.
[Regarding E911:] It's the Baby Bells that generally control that
They control about 90% or 80% of it.
Are they reluctant to grant Vonage access? Do they say it's a cost
issue and that they want you to share the cost with them?
No, no. It's interesting. Every Bell will make a different
excuse. Verizon is the one that is to be most commended. Verizon says,
"Let's put all this crap to the side and let's figure out a way to
make this work."
And Verizon actually has multiple solutions, depending on the
market. And they work really well, and our goal is now to roll it out
territory-wide. Verizon makes available to us the same things it makes
available to a combination of wireline entities and wireless entities.
So we've gone to the other RBOCs and said we want these same
things. With Qwest we have an agreement in principle, but we're
still working on details. Bell South and SBC have been very reluctant
for every reason under the sun. Bell South's made some progress and
they're starting to come around, but still not there yet. SBC keeps
issuing press release after press release of how they're going to
offer this, but they don't offer us the complete solution to do all
the pieces like the wireless guys have so we can do it all real and
SBC finds that E911 is a competitive advantage over Vonage and they
want to extort that competitive advantage. I've got to tell you,
the last thing anyone should be doing in this country is using E911 as
a competitive advantage and risking people's lives. It's not the
right thing to do. Remember, these Bells were given 911 as a public
trust. Originally given by Congress to AT&T and then by AT&T through
divestiture to the Baby Bells. And they should really honor their
public trust commitment. Verizon has. We're very pleased about
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