After initially announcing the service at last year’s Cable Show, Comcast’s HD video Skype service will be available to its subscribers in 10 markets by the end of this week.
Skype on Xfinity, which costs $9.95 per month, launched yesterday in Seattle and Boston, the latter of which is where next week’s Cable Show will take place, and Boston is also the location of a limited network DVR trial. By the close of the week, the service will start to roll out nationwide starting in Atlanta; Augusta, Ga.; Chicago; Detroit; Harrisburg, Pa.; Indianapolis; Miami; and Pittsburgh – with more markets to follow over the course of the summer.
The service allows qualifying Xfinity triple-play customers to make and receive video calls on their TVs in 720p HD, as well as send and receive instant messages via Skype while watching TV at the same time.
“We’re continuing to build innovative communication services like Skype on Xfinity that will allow our customers to interact in new ways with the people they care about the most,” said Tony Werner, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Comcast Cable. “Through our close collaboration with Skype, we focused on delivering a new product that brings family and friends together through a high-quality video calling experience like never before.”
In order to use Skype on Xfinity, customers will need Comcast’s data service, an HDMI-capable Comcast set-top box and a Skype account. Comcast is using an adapter box from Technicolor to provision the service. An all-in-one kit also includes a video camera and a specially designed remote control that lets users instant message with one or more Skype contacts, as well as control the volume of their TVs.
For Skype-to-Skype calls or instant messages, the other calling party does not need any special equipment beyond what is needed to use Skype; they simply need to be logged into their Skype account.
Cathy Avgiris, executive vice president and general manager of communications and data services for Comcast Cable, said: “TV is rapidly evolving as a social experience, and Skype on Xfinity is bringing friends and family together to share life’s moments through the use of the largest screen in their homes. Skype on Xfinity is simple to set up and easy to use so that you can always feel like you’re there with friends and loved ones, even if physically you’re miles apart.”