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Louis Mamakos, CTO, Vonage

LouisLouis Mamakos joined Vonage a little over three months ago. And what a three months it's been.

The New Jersey Voice over IP company has raised $105 million in venture capital, added to its impressive subscriber total and paved the way for hands-off regulation of the industry.

Mamakos, who oversees research and development and product delivery at Vonage, recently spoke with internetnews.com about the fast-moving developments at Vonage and in the VoIP field.

Q: What attracted you to Vonage?

I was recently at Hyperchip, a router startup ... and before that at UUNet. It reminds me of the very early days of UUNet. First and foremost, it's interesting work in an emerging market space. Vonage has done a really good job on the execution -- building the technology, getting it out there. It's finding different ways to reach customers.

Q: What are some of the challenges at working at such a fast-growing company?

A startup is agile, but when it grows beyond a certain point, a lot of informal communication systems get strained. The challenge is to introduce enough process and decide how things are going to get done.

Q: In August, the Federal Communications Commission ruled that VoIP providers should be prepared to comply with the Communication Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA), which allows law enforcement to tap phone calls. What is Vonage doing in this area?

We expect to have that capability soon. We do have a solution identified and we're working on the implementation. We're trying to be part of the solution and not part of the problem. We've been responsive to these needs .... To this point, no one has come to Vonage and demanded that we must do CALEA or else. But we've responded [to requests] for calling records. We're already in that world.

Q: Vonage is moving to markets outside North America to the United Kingdom and Asia. How is that process from technical and capital investment standpoints?

It's a multi-step strategy. First we add virtual numbers, then establish a presence within a new region to terminate the numbers and follow up with a more complete implementation. Then there's sales and marketing, retailing, billing in local currency.

From a deployment of equipment standpoint, it's a well-understood process, and the capital [invested] is not that big a deal; mostly it's time-consuming

Q: What should we expect from Vonage in terms of new technology?

In a few months we'll bring a Wi-Fi phone to market. It will work the same way as a cell phone or cordless phone. There's a battery issue: we want to have adequate standby and talk time. And there's a [user interface] concern. We want it to be easy-to-use out of the box. It needs to reach an attractive price point. We're making very good progress on all three of those fronts.