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Vonage Wi-Fi? Citron Tells Why

Reading the press release last night was a head-scratcher moment deluxe: Vonage is getting into the business of selling Wi-Fi? What, they don’t have enough scars from taking on incumbents in voice, now they’re going to butt heads over Internet access as well?

During a Monday morning phone call, we tried to talk some sense into Vonage chairman Jeffrey Citron, but he refused to be dissuaded. Bundling Wi-Fi will make it easier for customers to sign up for Vonage VoIP, he said. And if they are already Vonage customers? Lower acquisition costs, Citron replied.

Maybe it was the fuzzy connection (Citron said he was calling from one of the noisy show-floor booths Vonage has at CES, left), but we still weren’t convinced that reselling EarthLink’s not-so-fast Wi-Fi would be such a big bonus for Vonage. Since Citron couldn’t give us any pricing for potential service bundles — or specs on a promised Wi-Fi phone — it was hard to judge how much Wi-Fi might be able to add to Vonage’s shaky bottom line.

In our haste, we forgot to ask Mr. Citron how the added costs for ISP service and support would impact any broadband profits — since Vonage has had trouble scaling support just for VoIP in the recent past. But I bet it’s one we hear asked at the next quarterly call.

6 Responses to “Vonage Wi-Fi? Citron Tells Why”

  1. I do understand Vonage “look at the new kids on the block” ((truphone)) which have launched a global mobile VoIP carrier based on Nokia E and N Series phones which have WiFi build in. truphone is working like butter for me! I use it all the time on public hotspots in London, at home, in the office and most important while on holiday. It is fabulous. This is the game worthwhile playing. GigaOM just reported about the mega round truphone raised yesterday. To be believed the largest in 2006 in European Technology.

  2. I cannot see why anyone would go out and buy a UTStarcom F1000 WiFi handset from Vonage. Build quality, outdated mono LCD display and some of the most embarrassing ringtones in existance really do not make a very attractive offering. [Full review at ]

    Perhaps the biggest issue is what happens when out of WiFi coverage. A much better practical hardware solution can be found in any of the Nokia E-Series or N-Series WiFi capable GSM handsets – I use a N80 Internet Edition on the Truphone service. This is simply dripping wth features such as a color QVGA display, 3 mega-pixel camera, quad-band GSM plus UMTS plus Bluetooth, stereo FM radio, Exchange and Blackberry e-mail clients, GPS SatNav clint (working with Bluetooth GPS receiver, pocasting, MP3 player, 2GB removable flash RAM, secondary 640 x 480 video conferencing camera… and the list goes on and on and on…

  3. Honestly I think this is a good move for Vonage as Earthlink has done nothing to let people know the wifi is out there, so their PR efforts actually stinks even more. This will make Vonage look good because there isn’t much VoIP talk here in Philly with or without the WiFi, so it is more “I am first to try and infect” kind of thing, not necessarily a bad move.