Daily Variety, September 29, 2003, Monday

Not content with just elbowing its way into the satellite TV business, Chuck Dolan's Cablevision Systems has decided to take on the telephone companies, too.

The largest cable company in the New York area last week began selling phone service over its cable systems on Long Island.

Cablevision's telephone service was made available to high-speed Internet customers for $34.95 a month, spokeswoman Julie Staska said. That price provides unlimited local and long-distance calling. By year's end, the company will begin offering the service to customers in other parts of the state, as well as in Connecticut and New Jersey.

Cable telephone service, which can be provided over existing cable lines, will help Bethpage, N.Y.-based Cablevision and its rivals boost revenue by offering three services — cable TV, high-speed Internet and phone — at little additional cost to themselves, analysts said. It will also bring the companies into competition with local phone carriers such as Verizon Communications.

New York-based Time Warner's cable unit, the biggest cable operator behind Comcast, plans to offer phone service in Rochester, N.Y., and two North Carolina markets by year's end. Time Warner Cable introduced the service in Portland, Maine, in May and now serves about 4,200 customers there. Cox, which already offers phone service through its cable systems using an older technology, plans to test the system used by Cablevision in Roanoke, Va.

Cablevision plans to launch a direct-to-home satellite television service next month that will compete with EchoStar and DirecTV.