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Industry Perspective: Jeffrey Citron

Jeffrey Citron is here to talk a little about Vonage, and a whole lot about regulatory — that’s what he says.  That’s great.  The last time I saw him speak it was a stump speech for Vonage — a live press release.

Vonage’s strategy has four key planks:

  • Improve people’s lives.  Using Vonage should be a better and easier experience than your old phone service.
  • Erase geographic boundaries.  It should be as easy to call friends and family on the other side of the world as it is to call next door.
  • A culture of innovation.  Continual innovation on new features.
  • A strong commitment to value.  Great price and value with Vonage services.

Jeffrey then makes an announcement – his broadband bill of rights.  This is defined as:

  • The right to connect any device to the network.
  • The right to transmit and receive data.
  • The right access anything on the internet
  • The right to privacy.
  • The right to broadband.

He relates the right to connect any device to the network back to the victories in the 1960’s and 70’s that allowed consumers to connect any handset to the telephone company’s network.  Devices that don’t harm the network must be allowed to connect.

The right to transmit data is the right to send packets on the network without being modified by the network operator. 

The right to access the internet is the right to visit any site, application, or portal unencumbered by the service provider.

The right to privacy gives you the right to use the internet for any kind of communications or other lawful practices without your permission. 

The right to high quality broadband is the right to transmit and receive at last 1 megabit/second continuous service.  It must mean all of the time, not some of the time.

Obviously these are all things that the broadband voice providers like Vonage need.  He couches these in terms of consumer rights, and regulatory requirements. 

So, he announced the Broadband Bill of Rights.  He’s working with industry leaders to draft policy guidelines, to released in a few weeks as an industry whitepaper.  Ultimately he would like to see these "rights" become FCC policy.

Net net, he would like to see the disaggregation of transport and application enshrined in FCC policy.  Hear hear!  No argument from me on that one.

I don’t think of these as "rights" per se, so although the ideas are incredibly important, the presentation really grated on me.  Maybe I’ve been living in Canada too long.

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • Anders September 20, 2005, 9:44 am

    So I wondered why he didn’t address QOS. You would think he would throw something on QOS in because he’s a VoIP provider, but no. So I went up to him and asked him but he explained it away saying you can’t put something in that serves one industry like VoIP. I disagree. Why shouldn’t some level of quality of service be part of the package. I think of the whole Broadband Bill of Rights like an SLA. Making QOS part of it is the right thing to do. I want you to prioritize packets the way I ask them to be prioritized. I don’t get it…

  • Alec September 20, 2005, 10:02 am

    You would think so, but I think that at this point Jeffrey is really just focused on the “do no harm” aspects of the industry. QOS would be great, but strategically what he has to do is make sure he doesn’t get blocked out altogether.

  • Aswath September 29, 2005, 10:21 am

    Also if he says that he needs QOS, then wouldn't that imply that his current service is somehow below par?

  • Alec September 29, 2005, 10:42 am

    ummm… what's to imply? We're trying to use Vonage for our business lines at Iotum, and it's not always a great experience.

  • Greg Kelemen September 19, 2007, 4:20 pm

    What Citron is proposing is more of a service provider’s bill of rights to use a network. A true broadband bill of rights would have as its cornerstone two things: 100% public ownership (but not public admin/operation) and fair and equitable right to use. No one’s done this yet.

    The kind of applications we use on the network is a problem. But we are fast approaching a situation where network owner dictates which destinations we can visit and which ones we can’t.

    To illustrate, let’s say you wanted to visit your aunt in Barrie, Ontario. But the gas station (owned by the oil company) decides they want to limit the number of people who can visit Barrie because they don’t like the town (or some other similarly arbitrary reason) and force you to pay 4 times more for gas. Would we accept this? I think not. Yet this is in fact the case with so-called “high speed” services. It’s called by various names “traffic shaping”, “bandwidth management” and so on.

    What we need is grass-roots support (I’d say demand) for a broadband bill of rights that de-privatizes the infrastructure (and keeps it from being used by big corporations simply to make money).

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