Comcast Corp. has announced it will be calling up Internet Protocol telephony service in its hometown of Philadelphia in mid 2003.
It is the first voice-over IP deployment for the Philadelphia-based MSO, which already has 40,000 circuit-switched telephony customers in Michigan and Virginia.
For the Philadelphia service, Comcast will use a voice-over-IP system powered by Arris Group Inc.'s C4 cable modem termination system (CMTS) unit which is Data Over Cable Service Interface Specifications 1.1 qualified. The unit will be installed in the headend at a mid-sized Comcast system in the city during the next few weeks.
After field tests, plans are to offer residential phone service there in the second quarter 2003. The exact location and rates for the initial service, and what residential access device will be used, were not released. Comcast has already announced it intends to unveil or expand phone service in Philadelphia and Detroit once its merger with AT&T Broadband is settled.
Compared to traditional circuit-switched phone service, IP telephony offers several advantages to cable operators, including better bandwidth efficiency and the ability to combine voice with data services. Comcast recently completed VoIP technical lab trials and has concluded the technology is ready for deployment.
"We are excited to be taking this first step in our rollout of phone service," said Steve Burke, Comcast's president. "Voice over Internet Protocol technology has come a long way, and we think it will play a big role in our future."