IP Telephony Could Lift Sales

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The introduction of voice-over-Internet protocol technology is giving the commercial-services divisions of MSOs a lift — including cable’s oldest B2B company, the Lightpath division of Cablevision Systems Corp.

The 10-year-old company may add VoIP services to its product lineup, which could greatly expand the number of businesses it could reach, according to Lightpath senior vice president of marketing and customer solutions Kevin Curran.

“It’s a new level of excitement,” he said last week, one day after the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s commercial-services seminar in Fairview Park, Va., drew 300 attendees. “[VoIP] has definitely given us a second wind.”

That, plus a new high-end Ethernet offering, will give Lightpath a chance to expand its market, he said.

The latter “is very disruptive for the incumbents,” he said. Lightpath is targeting the Manhattan’s financial-services district for the big-bandwidth Ethernet service.

That same dislocation could occur on the VoIP front. Curran said many existing high-speed data Lightpath customers are calling about getting flat-rate phone service via VoIP. Curran estimates there are 400,000 additional businesses he could target with a 10- to 12-line VoIP service, in addition to high-speed data. About half of those businesses are within 400 feet of Cablevision’s plant, he said.

“It’s an underserved market,” he said. Lightpath is testing equipment from several VoIP vendors at the moment, and expects to launch service later this year.

“We have a 60-person sales force that only looks at those businesses,” he said. Lightpath counts about 30,000 high-speed data customers in the small-business segment, and will target them first with a bundled offer.

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