More Operators Call on VoIP

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More of cable’s voice-over-Internet protocol telephony plans fell into place last week, with Charter Communications Inc. selecting vendor partners, Adelphia Communications Corp. cutting a marketing deal with AT&T Corp. and Bright House Networks declaring that it has introduced VoIP in some Florida markets.

Charter said it has contracted with Level 3 Communications, Sprint Corp. and Accenture to help offer VoIP service to its stated goal of 1 million homes by year-end.

Adelphia’s marketing deal involves AT&T’s CallVantage VoIP service. Like similar deals with other cable companies, AT&T will refer potential high-speed Internet customers that need broadband hookups to Adelphia as a prerequisite to for subscribing to CallVantage.

And Bright House confirmed a launch of VoIP in the Tampa Bay, Fla., area, while keeping vendor arrangements and any other partnering on the service to itself.

VENDORS NAMED

Charter will use Level 3 Communications Inc.’s voice-termination technology to complete long-distance calls and its Link Private Line service to facilitate local interconnections.

Sprint Corp. also will provide long-distance and local-calling connectivity and Accenture will provide provisioning services.

Charter turned to Nortel Networks Inc. and CedarPoint Communications Inc. to provide headend-based VoIP gear, including soft switches, for its Great Lakes and Northeast regions.

Charter had about 31,000 phone customers at the end of the second quarter, most on circuit-switched telephony plant it inherited from AT&T Broadband. It’s also tested VoIP service in Wisconsin.

Charter joins Time Warner Cable, Mediacom Communications Corp. and USA Cos. in partnering with Sprint.

Time Warner’s using Sprint and MCI Inc. to connect with national carrier networks.

Mediacom has gone a step further, relying on Sprint for both national connectivity and local switching.

In Florida, Bright House Networks has introduced VoIP services in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties in the Tampa Bay area, as reported by The St. Petersburg Times and confirmed by the MSO last week.

Plans are to expand the service into Pasco County in September and Hernando and Citrus counties before the end of the year.

Bright House will offer the service as a local and long-distance package costing $39.95 to $49.95 per month, depending what other services they buy.

“This is not a pilot or a test — we’re committed to it,” Bright House group vice president of public relations and government affairs Jennifer Mooney said. Bright House Digital Phone has been offered in a “managed and staged rollout” since early July and the goal is to have the service available across the Advance/Newhouse Communications-controlled MSO’s 1.2-million-home Tampa Bay Division by the end of the year, she said.

CALLVANTAGE AIDES

And Adelphia became the latest MSO to join with AT&T's CallVantage VoIP service tied to cable-modem subscriptions.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications Inc. and Charter also serve as AT&T’s preferred broadband provider for customers in their service areas. Instead of referring customers who need a modem to phone companies for digital subscriber line service, AT&T will send potential VoIP subscribers to the cable companies — who won’t pitch those new customers their own VoIP offerings.

AT&T will launch a marketing campaign to educate Adelphia customers about CallVantage, focusing on unlimited local and long-distance service and advanced features.

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