No large VoIP roll-outs until late 2002
With PacketCable specs frozen and equipment testing slated for this year, VoIP technology has finally solidified to the point that cable operators are finally feeling a lot more comfortable with the nuts and bolts behind the service.
Still, it's expected that cable operators won't rollout IP telephony in earnest until the latter part of 2002. Until then, we'll probably see more lab trials and pilot efforts in the field to make certain that everything works as advertised and that it's a service with consumer demand.
While AT&T Broadband, Insight Communications Co. Inc. and Cox will continue to support their primary line, circuit-switched voice products, and may make some initial forays into VoIP as long as it doesn't strand its existing telephony capital, expect to see plenty of IP telephony action at Time Warner Cable. That MSO will most likely march along with "second-line" VoIP services following its market trials in Portland, Maine and Rochester, N.Y., where the MSO offers "LineRunner" for $9.95 per month, plus a few bits more for features such as caller ID and voice messaging.
Also look for MSOs that have been waiting for VoIP technology to mature to make some moves as well in 2002. In this group, Adelphia, Comcast Corp., Charter Communications and possibly Cablevision Systems Corp. are among the most likely candidates.
Out on a limb: AT&T Broadband, if it remains an independent company, will dig its teeth into a recently released VoIP RFI (request for information) and publicly disclose two trials before 2002 is done.