I had the opportunity this morning to speak with Jeffrey Citron the CEO of Vonage regarding the merger of AT&T with SBC. There are a lot of opinions regarding this merger floating around... I would think Mr. Citron's is one of the most important as AT&T's CallVantage is positioned as a strong competitor to Vonage.
What do you think of the potential SBC, AT&T merger?
This is an Interesting merger but not a big surprise. It is interesting because SBC passed on this purchase opportunity when AT&T's stock was 60%-70% lower in value. This shows the shifting dynamics in the telecom industry. We are seeing the behemoths in telecom reposition themselves. Even more interesting is the fact that one of AT&T's offspring is purchasing the company. There may be consent decree (define) implications with this merger as well.
Is this good for Vonage?
It doesn't matter but it makes the industry less cluttered.
What is the future of CallVantage?
Who knows? SBC can adopt the AT&T name or keep their own. SBC's Cingular killed the AT&T Wireless brand and perhaps that is something to look at (as an example)
There is no strong #3 player (in VoIP service) is there?
A few cable companies are in the 200-300k subscriber range.
Rumors abound regarding Vonage being purchased - Can you offer perspective on this at all?
It is inappropriate to answer this question at this point.
When will Vonage be a force in the SMB market?
We are piloting Small Business Plus aimed at smaller companies.
Where will Vonage be in five years?
We will be the number one player in VoIP. We signed more users in the last quarter than any other quarter. We have gone global in Canada and the UK. We will add two more international markets this year and more going forward.
What do you think of p2p VoIP?
It is interesting but doesn't have the ability to replace existing services. It does fill a role in the marketplace. Furthermore it makes more sense when telecom rates are high. It may make less sense as rates drop. This (pricing) model is becoming a component of all telecom services. Vonage to Vonage calls are free and so are those on the Verizon wireless network.
What do you think of WiFi Telephony?
What about video offerings?
They are very good. Cool. New technology we have coming out (in this area) resolves pricing, bandwidth and quality. I am not sure how customers will adopt it or how it will be used though.
What is your biggest obstacle to success?
Keeping up with demand.
Why should a potential customer buy VoIP service from Vonage?
We are the best.
Are you behind picking the nifty song for the TV ads?
I am not, CMO Dean Harris picked it.
Will you ever do anything to help people pronounce your name as Voh – Nij instead of Vah-'Nahj
They are both right. We picked a global name and let people pronounce it however they want.
Whatever happens to AT&T's products in the future, I can tell from the passion in Citron's voice and his answers to the above questions that his company is going to continue to be a major force in VoIP and will transform telephony on a worldwide scale. Vonage is positioned uniquely to lead a worldwide charge into bringing VoIP to the masses.