Cable Tech

Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) today took big steps to make itself one of the major voice-over-IP (VOIP) services players, announcing a major rollout of IP-based voice services at the Citigroup/Smith Barney 15th Annual Global Entertainment, Media & Telecommunications Conference in Phoenix.

Comcast plans to market its service -- which it describes as a “digital voice offering” rather than VOIP -- to 15 million homes in 20 markets by year-end 2005 and make it fully available to all of the company’s 40 million customers by the end of 2006, according to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, who announced the plans in a Webcast that was broadcast on the Internet.

"We’re looking for a penetration of 20 percent of our total customers over the next five years," he says. "We are going to market this like we did with broadband services, node by node, and do not plan to advertise it and not be able to deliver."

It's clear that the service offering will be seen as a major threat to incumbent RBOCs, though Roberts described it as an evolution of Comcast's product offering more than a death knell for the RBOCs. “It is not our desire to do this to hurt phone companies,” he says. “We’re doing this to add value to our service. We have had competition in our market, and we don’t believe that there has really been competition for local phones service, and we think we can compete.” Get the full story at Next-Generation Services.

— Chris Somerville, Senior Editor, Next-Generation Services

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:30:03 AM
re: Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP What happens to investment into US communications infrastructure if Comcast doesn't penetrate significant households with their VoIP offering? Will the RBOCs really invest in fiber to compete in the video arena?

And how long do we wait before powers that be decide that the current combined regulatory/market model is or is not working? Waiting for 5 years to see if Comcast gets 20% take rate on VoIP seems like a long time to me.
keelhaul42 12/5/2012 | 3:30:02 AM
re: Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP RJ, what do you suggest? What are the outcomes you would like to see?

I will admit I was shocked out of my socks to see announcements from VZ & SBC that they were going to plant fiber (to the home:VZ, to the curb:SBC).
That tells me RBOC mgt is frightened; otherwise they would never spend so much money on something like this.
For their part, MSO's like Comcast seem very ambitious. They've laid a lot of fiber recently.

I'm sure the future here will be interesting. I can't believe the RBOC's won't try some regulatory maneuvering. But, to eat my own words, it would seem commitments to spend billions laying fiber represent a belief that the regulatory avenue won't succeed.

I say hooray for the MSO's. At least they are investing & building. Thanks to them the RBOC's are finally moving forward.
I wish they had done it sooner!

rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 3:29:59 AM
re: Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP RJ, what do you suggest? What are the outcomes you would like to see?

Less press releases making empty promises and proclaimations that "competition has arrived". More guys climbing poles, digging trenches and modernizing our communications infrastructure.
jonathanrichardson 12/5/2012 | 3:29:58 AM
re: Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP I don't agree with the picture a lot of the Bell-haters try to draw, in which the RBOC's are too stupid to be driven by anything but fear or greed. Yes they are giant, clumsy, slow-moving corpoations. But then again, take that into consideration with respect to Comcast and VoIP. It takes a RBOC a year or two to react to anything. Their announcement to move ahead now with FTTP or FTTC was planned years ago. More than two years ago it was openly acknowleged within BellSouth that FTTC didn't work adequately, and was too expensive to fix immediately. The expectation was that the needed technology would be cheap enough to implement widely in about a year and a half. They stall all they can, and they could do better than they do, but they are not stupid.
keelhaul42 12/5/2012 | 3:29:53 AM
re: Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP jonathanrichardson wrote:
I don't agree with the picture a lot of the Bell-haters try to draw, in which the RBOC's are too stupid to be driven by anything but fear or greed. Yes they are giant, clumsy, slow-moving corpoations...................
I don't think the RBOCs are stupid and I probably would qualify as a "Bell-hater". Fear and greed are some of the factors that drive "regular" companies too, "regular" meaning companies subject to market competition & not guaranteed return on capital, etc.
Your last line says it all: "They stall all they can, and they could do better than they do, ...". As a result our communications infrastructure is ready for the late 20th century.
Let's take that as a hard lesson and not give anyone else a monopoly in this venue!

OldPOTS 12/5/2012 | 3:29:51 AM
re: Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP The RBOCs, besides operating eye pee networks, have had small trials for their solutions for several years. (They do have a core set of IP Gurus to train those large number of not interested in changing techs). They do these small competing trials with the latest practical technology available for an extended time, before investing the big $$$. Learning all about the solution; costs, instalations, configurations, weaknesses and yes technology.

They like to wait until they are forced to move, maintaining that mature cash flow. This also delivers the best/practical solution when they are forced to move, and makes more time to deliver the best solution. This lets them fully depreciate the expense of the large scale new technology investment over many years.

They delay exposing their play and protect their older technology by legal maneuvers and then if they have to, announce new technology to hold their customers. Then slow roll it out to keep that older cash cow producing. They have this down to a fine art. Just watch this happen again.

Many times I thought they had waited too long and were doomed, but they got a major share of the new technology business. Now with the newer progressive generation, this may be harder, and I do believe the cable operators progress has been faster than they anticipated. But RBOCs will give up the 20% if they can also grab some of the cable operators other business. But this technology is more flexible and others can respond to RBOCS quicker with new SERVICES (Not transport) than they are used to.

I ain't got much of my retirement money on either side of this race.


(This is a modification of another thread, but more appropriate here.)
bronco999 12/5/2012 | 3:29:49 AM
re: Comcast Vaunts Its VOIP Its not just CMCSA attaining 20% in their areas.
Its the other cable cos. Its also venture capital firms pumping money into startups because they see return and asset value. These startups move fast and must be taken seriously.
Are the bells concerned?
My opinion yes.
They'll be loosing dialup to these startups and cable cos., faster than cables are loosing subs to satellite.
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