Comcast Answers VoIP Call

The nation’s largest cable operator plans to market its Digital Voice service to 15 million homes by year’s end, and the remainder of its homes in 2006, it said. With such an aggressive consumer push, can VoIP for SMBs be far behind?

CEO Brian Roberts will lay out the VoIP blueprint at a Smith Barney Citigroup investor conference in Phoenix.

Comcast‘s goal is to have eight million phone subscribers by 2010, according to a Wall Street Journal report. Customers who already have broadband Internet service from Comcast will pay an additional $39.95 per month for unlimited U.S. calling, the report said. On its own, the phone service will cost $54.95 per month.

Comcast, based in Philadelphia, has been testing the service in several markets for more than a year.

It’s the latest salvo in a back-and-forth battle between Comcast and telecom carriers like Verizon and SBC. Both Baby Bells have made aggressive forays into Comcast territory, with plans to offer television service over fiber.

Other cable companies have also added VoIP to their offerings, including Time Warner Cable. The cable arm of the media giant recently activated service in its New York and New Jersey markets.

In addition to traditional phone company rivals, cable operators must also compete with VoIP startups, such as Vonage and Net 2Phone for Internet voice customers. The cable companies hope that bundling television and broadband will give it an edge.

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