DirecTV Plans VoIP Digital Phone Offer

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Cable operators aren't the only telecommunications providers interested in marketing a bundle of services.

DirecTV Broadband — the digital subscriber line sister company to DirecTV Inc. — last week said it will work with Texas Instruments Inc. to deploy voice-over-Internet protocol services to its digital subscriber line customers.

The broadband provider plans to begin deploying the new residential gateways as part of its third-generation technology late this year, but does not expect to offer the new digital telephone service until next year, said vice president of broadband services David Allred.

The company has conducted successful technical trials, but must put back-office systems in place before it rolls out the new service.

DirecTV Broadband will market an inexpensive second phone line that could be used in a home office, for example.

If its service were a primary phone line (or "lifeline"), the company would expose itself to 911 emergency call requirements. In addition, because the DSL gateway needs electricity to operate, the phone line would be unavailable during power outages.

Allred said the phone service would offer "99-percent-plus" uptime.

DirecTV Broadband has not yet disclosed the brand name for the phone service, which will send and receive local, long-distance and international calls. The company also has yet to announce which long-distance provider it plans to partner with.

Initially, consumers would be able to set up two phone lines, limited to one phone on each line.

Today, DirecTV Broadband counts more than 100,000 subscribers. That's just a small fraction of the direct broadcast satellite provider's more than 10 million video customers.

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