VoIP's Definately Getting Out There

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The increase in voice-over-Internet protocol activity is picking up across the board, as most major MSOs have trials and deployments planned for 2004.

Here's a look at what's up with some of the top MSOs:

Cablevision Systems Corp.:
Launched Optimum Voice VoIP service across its entire footprint on Nov. 30. The MSO is using Motorola Inc. cable modems, a Cisco Systems Inc. cable modem termination system and a Siemens AG soft switch.

The service is being marketed to 507,000 cable-modem subscribers. For $34.95 a month, VoIP customers receive unlimited local and long-distance service, caller ID, call waiting, call return, three-way calling, call forwarding and E-911 service.

"The early results are very promising," Cablevision president Tom Rutledge said on the company's third-quarter earnings call. "We have high hopes for it."

A soft launch throughout 2003 has generated 5,000 subscribers.

Direct mail, radio, telemarketing, print and cross-channel ads are promoting the service. Rutledge said Cablevision's bundled voice and data package is $120 cheaper than Verizon's competing offer.

Comcast Corp:
The No.1 MSO is testing VoIP in Coatesville, Pa., and Philadelphia for the past year, and reportedly plans launches in Indianapolis, Hartford, Conn., and Springfield, Mass., markets in 2004.

Vendors include Cedar Point Communications Inc., Syndeo Corp., Cisco, Arris Group plc, Tellabs Inc. and ADC Telecommunications Inc. The MSO currently has 1.3 million circuit-switched telephony subscribers.

Cox Communications Inc.:
Plans to launch VoIP in Roanoke, Va., by year's end as a primary lifeline, local-exchange carrier replacement service. The soft switch will be located in Atlanta, and calls will be routed over Cox's nationwide backbone.

Cox has launched circuit-switched phone service in most of its major markets, and plans to use VoIP technology as an adjunct to that service. For instance, while a core metropolitan area may employ circuit-switched technology, Cox can extend phone service to suburban areas by installing cheaper VoIP gear.

It could also launch new phone markets with VoIP gear, while still using class five switches and other elements of its nationwide circuit switched infrastructure.

Charter Communications Inc.:
Launched VoIP in one Wisconsin market and has indicated it will launch two more VoIP markets in 2004, but due to capital constraints, a widespread VoIP launch probably won't happen until 2005 and 2006.

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