Cox Takes VoIP To Tulsa, Okla.

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Cox Communications Inc.’s new voice-over-Internet protocol phone offering launched in Tulsa, Okla., last week, and the MSO disclosed plans to add three more VoIP markets in 2004.

Service is slated to start in Baton Rouge, La., later this month, and systems in southwest Louisiana (Lafayette) and West Texas are scheduled for launch by year-end.

The moves follow Cox’s introduction of VoIP service in Roanoke, Va., last December. Cox plans to launch VoIP service to small and medium-sized businesses in Roanoke later this year.

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All told, Cox will have five VoIP markets by the end of 2004, as it moves Cox Digital Telephone service deeper into smaller markets.

The company serves more than 1 million phone subscribers and 100,000 business customers with circuit-switched phone services.

“We’ve had good success in Roanoke and we’ve met our objectives,” Cox marketing director Mike Pacifico said. “The household-phone penetration to homes passed to similar to our circuit-switched markets.”

About half of all Cox homes are passed by circuit-switched plant, and VoIP will allow Cox to address most of the remaining homes.

“The technology allows us to get to some of the smaller markets a lot more cost-effectively,” Pacifico said.

The marketing and packaging in Tulsa will look a lot like that of neighboring Oklahoma City, Pacifico said. It’s marketed as Cox Digital Telephone.

“We don’t call out the technology to the customers,” he said. “They respond to telephony service — one bill from one service provider.”

Cox provides a number of service tiers. At the low end, consumers can get one local line for $12.36 a month for unlimited local calling, if they have high-speed data or video service.

There is a $28 monthly package that includes several feature sets, like call waiting and unlimited local calling.

A $31-per-month package includes 60 minutes of long distance, while a package priced at $49 per month includes unlimited local and long-distance calling, plus 13 features including call waiting, caller ID and voice mail.

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The service is only available in certain parts of Tulsa, Pacifico said, so marketing efforts have been limited to direct mail. Once a technical upgrade is completed, it will be rolled out .

Arris Group Inc. is supplying the embedded multimedia terminal adapter, a combination phone and cable modem in Tulsa. Calls are routed through Cox’s nationwide Internet backbone to the MSO’s soft switch in Atlanta.

Cox’s Oklahoma City operation handles provisioning and operational support for the Tulsa phone rollout.

“We leverage the phone operations there,” Pacifico said, including the Oklahoma City CSRs, which handle such issues as number portability.

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