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VoIP Systems

Charter Hunts Bigger Business Game

Charter Communications Inc. is the latest MSO to head upmarket, with the launch of SIP trunking services targeted to businesses with more than 20 employees.

Charter launched SIP trunking in Wisconsin and Missouri last week, where it competes with incumbents such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ), and with an array of CLECs and over-the-top providers such as Bandwidth.com . Charter expects to launch hosted voice services in all its markets by early 2012.

Charter's SIP trunking effort complements a PRI-based service it launched about two years ago, but the new service should give the MSO more service flexibility. While PRI requires businesses to buy packages in increments of about 20 channels, Charter can use SIP trunking to sell services in call-path increments of four, says Jim Bagnato, senior manager for Charter Business.

The addition of SIP trunking also makes Charter technology-indifferent at the customer premises. Charter, Bagnato acknowledged, has had to turn away some sales opportunities before SIP trunking was in its arsenal.

Now, Charter will be able to interoperate with IP-PBX systems, allowing it to chase after large business customers more aggressively. Charter's commercial revenues were $148 million in the third quarter, up 19.4 percent year-on-year.

Why this matters
Charter's approach expands a new, but growing, service category for the cable industry. Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC), Cox Communications Inc. , Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Rogers Communications Inc. (Toronto: RCI) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) are among the major North American MSOs that have launched SIP trunking or have tests underway, says Heavy Reading Senior Analyst Alan Breznick. (See Resetting Cable's Biz Services Agenda .)

For more
Read (and see) more about cable's business services ambitions.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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