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Big MSOs Expand Into Other Voice Services

Hoping to capitalize further on the early success of their VoIP rollouts, several major U.S. MSOs are exploring the launch of more advanced IP phone features. Speaking at the NCTA National Show in Atlanta earlier this week, executives from Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems said they're developing the new voice services to help their fledgling VoIP products stand out from the rival Bell offerings. By integrating the new voice services with their existing video and data products, they're seeking to attract more customers, cut subscriber churn and boost their recurring revenue. In the first sign of this drive, several large MSOs are beginning to roll out such initial converged services as caller ID on TV. Not surprisingly, Time Warner, the industry's VoIP leader, is leading the way. So far, North America's second biggest MSO has made the voice-video service available to digital cable and VoIP subscribers in at least three different regions. Plans call for rolling it out nationwide. "We actually see cross-platform innovation as an imperative," said Mark Sakalosky, vice president of field marketing and sales for Time Warner. He contended that such new voice-related services will enable cable operators to maintain their VoIP prices at current levels while increasing subscriber "stickines." Cox, Comcast and Cablevision officials also indicated that they're looking to introduce TV caller ID sometime in the next year. "It's not a question of if," said Joseph Varello, vice president of digital voice product management for Cablevision. "It's a question of when."
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