AT&T's Marketing-Only Cable VoIP Deals
Last week AT&T announced an agreement with CableLabs to leverage its Go2Broadband MSO service availability database. Through the deal, AT&T has inked marketing pacts with top U.S. cable operators in support of its CallVantage VoIP service, including Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Mediacom. Under the arrangement, AT&T will refer prospective customers seeking to sign up for its CallVantage VoIP package, which requires broadband Internet access, to the appropriate MSO to purchase cable modem service. MSOs are happy to receive the customer referrals and AT&T is eager to steer broadband subscribers aware from local telephone companies that are now competing with Ma Bell in the long distance business. It is worth noting that AT&T's cable VoIP deals are nothing more than superficial marketing pacts. The cable deal they really want, and the one they'll never get in the near term, is one that includes network services from MSOs to prioritize CallVantage traffic, thus ensuring higher voice quality and reliability than is otherwise available with best-effort VoIP services. MSOs are of course reluctant to do so, as it would create stronger competition for their own PacketCable-based IP telephone services.