Offering a glimpse of how the U.S. cable operators might hook together their own voice grids in the near future, five Dutch cable operators have forged a VoIP peering agreement in partnership with Kayote Networks and XConnect.

The joint initiative includes support from UPC Netherlands, Casema, MultiKabel, Essent and CaiW. Together, those MSOs serve more than 7 million cable subs and north of 450,000 telephony customers.

They are teaming with XConnect, a provider of "Plug and Peer" VoIP interconnection services, and Kayote, a provider of interconnectivity services.

The resulting agreement, which includes ENUM management, will allow the operators to share VoIP traffic via their own IP networks and bypass the traditional PSTN (public switched telephone network). For calls that traverse the peered network, operators will also eliminate traditional PSTN interconnection fees.

The joint effort takes a page from a project currently in progress at CableLabs.

The VoIP exchange in the Netherlands will also enable SIP-based applications such as video and presence across the interconnected VoIP networks, the companies said, noting that the nation's deep cable penetration made it a great candidate for the peering agreement.

"With one of the most highly saturated cable marketplaces, providing services to almost 97 percent of Dutch homes, the Netherlands is an excellent pioneer for driving the world's first cable VoIP Exchange," said XConnect CEO Eli Katz, in a release.