Comcast will let customers use their high-definition TVs to make video calls with other Skype users and any other Skype-compatible devices, such as PCs, smartphones and tablets.
The Comcast/Skype offer will require a broadband connection, of course. Comcast will try to simply things with a kit that includes an adapter box, a high-quality video camera and a new remote that lets customers send text via Skype and control the TV. Comcast will also offer a self-install option.
A Comcast spokesman notes that the MSO won't charge any upfront fees for the equipment, but will lease the gear for a yet-undisclosed "low monthly rate."
Comcast said trials will start in the coming months, but didn't specify which markets would get it first. Word of the MSO's Skype-to-the-TV tests bubbled up earlier this month on the DSL Reports message boards.
Why this matters
The TV videophone gives Comcast another potential monthly revenue stream while giving Skype (and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), which is buying Skype for $8.5 billion) added exposure to the MSO's 16.4 million broadband subscribers.
It would also seemingly lock out Cisco ūmi, a TV-based consumer telepresence product that recently survived the axe that took out the Flip video camera, from Comcast. But there's some competitive balance here, anyway, since Cisco already has a deal to bundle ūmi with Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) FiOS. (See Cisco Flips on Consumer Business.)
Read more about Skype's latest doings and the videophone market for service providers.
- Microsoft to Monetize Skype With Video Ads
- Cisco's ūmi in Action
- Verizon Ready for ūmi Mania
- Cisco's TelePresence Enters New Chamber
- Microsoft to Buy Skype for $8.5B
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable