Integra 5 is supplying software that enables cable operators to offer their new telephony subscribers caller-ID services on the TV or PC.
The technology — now in a trial with Cox Communications Inc. in Phoenix and deployed by Comporium Communications Inc. in Rock Hill, S.C. — is not only an example of bundling voice, video and data services on one bill, but of integrating feature sets across platforms to cement customer loyalty.
Integra 5's software sits next to the telephone switch within a cable system. The software “sees” phone calls coming into the system, determines which homes they're headed to, then takes the information about that call — phone number and name, if available — and sends a signal through the Moving Picture Expert Group transport stream to the TV set, where the information is displayed on a banner that runs along the bottom of the screen.
The same information can also be displayed on a cable modem-equipped PC, with the information sent through the Internet-protocol data network.
Transmission is instantaneous: As soon as the phone rings, the caller ID will be displayed on the TV screen. The transmission is encrypted, to ensure privacy, and consumers have the option of turning off the feature, if they don't want caller information to be presented on the TV.
“We feel the time is now for any service provider that likes the image of being innovative and being able to deliver new and compelling applications,” said Integra 5 CEO Eyal Bartfeld.
Formed in 2000, Integra 5 was focused on developing applications for bundled technology, including pay-for-play service providers, Bartfeld said. As cable operators deployed broadband, Bartfeld believed they'd begin looking for services and applications to make them stand out from the competition.
“By making phone services more visual, there is a better opportunity to sell those services to consumers,” he said.
For both Comporium and Cox, Integra 5 deployed a server in the headend. “It's connected in real time to get signals from the phone network,” Bartfeld said.
The software is designed to handle “different addressing schemes, different signaling mechanisms and different protocols,” he said. “We are able to communicate with both VoIP networks and with switched telephony infrastructures.”
Integra 5 offers MSOs the ability to post caller-ID messages, as well as voice mail waiting messages.
The service can support multiple set-tops and multiple phone lines.
The current systems can support up to 100,000 concurrent subscribers and work from a Sun Microsystems Inc. server, Bartfeld said.
Bartfeld said Integra 5 has completed integration work with the major switch vendors, as well as with set-top and guide suppliers.
Comporium uses Pioneer Corp.'s Passport guide on a Scientific-Atlanta Inc. system. Bartfeld said Integra is working with Motorola to integrate on its platform.
The company also offers a voice mail message indication feature. “It works the same way,” said Bartfeld. If a homeowner returns from a trip, waiting voice-mail messages could be displayed on the TV, including information on who left the message, its duration and the caller's phone number.
Integra also is working on new applications, like conference-call management and integration of cellular calls into the system.