Cablevision Tries VoIP Using Its Own Switch


Cablevision Systems Corp. plans to buy an Internet-protocol telephony soft switch by the end of the second quarter as part of a voice-over-IP test, according to Cablevision New York president Tom Rutledge.

Reporting the company's fourth-quarter earnings results last week, Rutledge said Cablevision was testing IP telephony on Long Island, where the company has some circuit-switched telephony subscribers.

With the right gateway interfaces soft switches allow MSOs to blend current circuit-switched plant with newer, cheaper, IP telephony gear without stranding embedded capital or equipment.

"We'll ramp up the business in the second half of the year," Rutledge said.

IP telephony was one of several technology touch points that came up during the Bethpage, N.Y.-based MSO's earnings call.

Cablevision is testing an all-digital plant in 20 nodes, Rutledge said.

The test is designed to look at several issues, he said, including improved plant security. But in certain Cablevision territories, the MSO will replace its addressable analog boxes with Scientific-Atlanta Inc. 1850 units as customers churn out, said Rutledge.

That could mean that within three years time, Cablevision will have replaced all of its analog boxes with digital ones in parts of its systems, due to normal churn.

Cablevision has rolled out high-definition television set-tops but is less enthusiastic about digital video recorders.

"We'd rather see that functionality exist in the network," Rutledge said of DVRs.

Cablevision has deploying Scientfic-Atlanta 4200- and 1850-series boxes as part of its digital rollout.

The company added 136,000 new iO: Interactive Optimum subscribers in the quarter and expects to add between 580,000 and 610,000 digital subscribers in 2003. But he downplayed any Cablevision move to S-A's 8000 box, which includes a DVR. One reason could be to give video-on-demand a boost.

Rutledge said VOD generates about one movie buy per digital subscriber, per month.