Canada's third-largest MSO, Viedeotron, is the country's first to commercially deploy IP telephone service to its subscribers. Initially the IP phone service is available to 300,000 homes in Montreal's South Shore area and 2,500 homes are already subscribers. Videotron says it will expand availability throughout its Quebec footprint in 2005. The service offers most standard calling features as well as local number portability. Packages start at $15.95 per month.
Unlike many other North American cable operators, Videotron is taking a hybrid approach to IP telephony. The MSO is using conventional Lucent phone switches owned by its sister company, Videotron Telecom Ltd., rather than buying and installing PacketCable soft switches, at least for now. The approach, referred to as IP dial tone (IPDT), still uses the DOCSIS access network and an E-MTA in the home to offer VoIP, but relies on a Class 5 switch to deliver voice services.
Videotron is an IP phone pioneer in more ways than one. Back in 1999, the MSO was the first in North America to begin a large scale trial, and then hoped to begin offering the service commercially in 2000. However, Videotron's ambitions in those days were ahead of the technology, and due to technical glitches and a change in corporate ownership, that initial IP call was placed on hold.