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Net2Phone readying wireless play for cable ops

Fri, 03/03/2006 - 6:41am
Jeff Baumgartner, CED

Net2Phone is working on a "wireless overlay" platform that will enable its cable VoIP partners to offer an array of mobile services.

Targeting a Q4 launch, Net2Phone is already in negotiations with a number of domestic wireless service providers, said Michael Pastor, president of Net2Phone Cable Telephony LLC.

In addition to crafting deals directly with carriers, Net2Phone is also looking into partnerships with Mobile Virtual Network Enablers (MVNEs), which handle elements such as wireless interfaces, handset fulfillment, branded customer care and number portability. Net2Phone did not disclose who might get its business, but some of the primary MVNEs in the market include Qualution Systems, EUR Systems, and Visage Mobile, the enabler for the recently launched Mobile ESPN service.

"From a subscriber standpoint, [the service] will be seamless and transparent," Pastor explained. "It will feel like the MSO's wireless service."

Net2Phone, which is in the process of being acquired by IDT Corp., has VoIP partnerships with several small- and mid-sized cable operators, including Atlantic Broadband, Liberty Cablevision of Puerto Rico, Bresnan Communications, Millennium Digital Media, Northland Communications and CMA Communications.

How long the wireless window will remain open for Net2Phone is questionable, however. The joint venture between Sprint Nextel, Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Advance/Newhouse and Cox Communications is already looking to add more MSOs to the mix.

In addition to a wireless play, Net2Phone also plans to add support for commercial services and TV-based caller ID applications.

On the first, the company will help partners go after the SoHo market initially with a 1- to 4-line solution, and then look later at a platform that can handle up to 20 lines of commercial-class service.

Net2Phone and Cablevision of Puerto Rico are already offering business services by logically tying together PacketCable-based multimedia terminal adapters. Later on, Net2Phone hopes to take advantage of the PacketCable Multimedia architecture and smarter, SIP-based endpoints. 

For the TV Caller ID initiative, Net2Phone is already negotiating with a third party application that could be repackaged for its cable MSO partners. Net2Phone did not say who it is working with but the most likely candidate is Integra5.

Pastor also touched on some synergies Net2Phone hopes to leverage via its merger with IDT. Among them, Net2Phone is looking at unbundling some of its platform elements, including its network monitoring toolset.

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