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.