VoIP Will Bring 'Dramatic Transformation'

By Sharon Gaudin

March 04, 2004

Vonage chair and CEO Jeffrey Citron discusses how Voice over IP technology will change the way companies do business and the coming convergence of VoIP and wireless technology.

In the clamor surrounding the voice over IP industry, one smaller company continues to stand out -- both in terms of the bite it's taking out of the market and in terms of the volume of its corporate voice.

Vonage Holdings Corp., a three-year-old broadband phone company based in Edison, N.J., has been making its mark. It has grabbed a reported 55 percent share of the market, with more than 150,000 VoIP subscribers. But the company may be better known for taking up a sword and standing in the front line in a regulatory battle that could reshape the country's telecommunications.

Minnesota proved to be one of the first battle grounds. Vonage led the fight against officials there and won a federal court decision which found that its service was not subject to traditional telephone regulations -- at least in that state. The win bolstered efforts to thwart federal regulations for interstate communications and for regulations that some would like to apply to calls that travel entirely over the Internet.

And while Vonage continues its regulatory battles, it also must prepare for increasing competition. At&T, cable companies and the Baby Bells all are looking to get in on the VoIP action.

In an exclusive interview, Datamation talked with Jeffrey Citron, chairman and CEO of Vonage, about how the technology is changing, how the technology will change the way companies do business and the coming convergence of VoIP and wireless technology.

Q: How will VoIP technology affect U.S. companies over the next five or 10 years?
VoIP is going to bring a dramatic transformation for the entire industry. You'll see it start happening over the next five years. It will affect most companies in one way or the other. It may not account for 100 percent of telecom solutions but most companies will have some VoIP in some of their telecom needs.

Q: How will it change the way we communicate?
Even today, the way I handle my voicemail and email is different. I log into my Web browser to get my voicemail. If you leave me a message on my phone, I would forward the email attachment to someone and have them take care of it. It'll dramatically change the way people communicate.

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