Roanoke Test Goes Commercial


Circuit-switched telephony stalwart Cox Communications Inc. launched its first voice-over-Internet protocol service offering last week in Roanoke, Va., after several months of testing the technology there.

This launch marks Cox's going-forward approach on telephony: VoIP for new "greenfield" markets, and VoIP technology as an "add-on" technology in existing circuit-switched markets.

Roanoke becomes Cox's 12th phone market. The other 11 markets launched using circuit-switched telephony plant.

A Cox spokesman said the MSO would likely have a mixture of VoIP launches next year — a mix of new markets, such as Roanoke, and "spur" additions to existing circuit-switched markets.

"The launch of Cox Digital Telephone in Roanoke is monumental for Cox," Cox vice president of product marketing and management David Pugliese said in a statement. "It furthers our commitment to providing customers with a full-service package of communications and entertainment services, while also allowing us to expand our phone service footprint and maximize the power of our nationwide IP backbone network with the use of VoIP technology."

In Roanoke, Cox subscribers would plug existing phones into an Arris Group Inc. Touchstone cable modem to activate VoIP service. Telephone calls would go through the cable plant, through Cox's cable modem termination system, and would then be routed via the operator's nationwide Internet backbone to a soft switch in Atlanta.

Local calls would be sent back through the network to Roanoke. Long-distance calls would be handed off to the public switched-telephone network.

Roanoke subscribers will be able to receive enhanced 911, call waiting, caller ID, voice mail and number portability.

Cox will offer unlimited local and long-distance service in Roanoke for $49.95 a month. High-speed data customers can get $10 off their combined monthly bill if they subscribe to video or telephony service, knocking the cost down to $39.95 — in line with what other MSOs are charging.

Cox also offers a $34.90 a month plan for unlimited local calls and 60 minutes per month of long distance.

The MSO said the pricing still was 10% below the cost of local incumbent Verizon Communications Inc.

Cox launched a local print and cross-channel marketing campaign to let subscribers know about the service, and will follow that with direct mail. Cox has 58,000 basic subscribers in the market and passes 85,000 homes.

Cox is using Arris' Touchstone 202P embedded multimedia terminal adapter in Roanoke.