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Cox Tabs VoIP Markets

Cox Communications has released details of its residential and business Voice over IP rollouts.

The cable giant said Tulsa, Okla., has become its second consumer voice market (Roanoke, Va., was the first). By year's end, it will add Baton Rouge, La., parts of west Texas and southwest Louisiana.

Cox also announced plans to launch its first business VoIP-based offering in Roanoke, Va., later this year.

Amy Cohn, a Cox spokeswoman, said pricing varies by state, but the company's strategy is to offer phone service for about 10 percent less than the regional telecom carrier.

Besides cable providers, there's an increasing number of VoIP choices from Baby Bells, long-distance companies and deep-pocketed Internet upstarts.

While a slew of competitors makes things trickier for the companies, it's benefiting consumers and small business owners who have seen VoIP prices fall in recent months. Just last week, AT&T and Vonage lopped $5 off their monthly rates.

In announcing its VoIP plan today, Cox took aim at the broadband telephony firms that transport voice traffic over the public Internet, saying that the method is susceptible to slowdowns.

By contrast, Cox's VoIP traffic will flow over its private network. Another advantage of Cox's infrastructure is that broadband access is not a prerequisite for VoIP.

That said, Cox, like other cable providers, will look to bundle the service into packages with television and broadband. "Bundling is a huge part of our strategy," Cohn said.

In other VoIP news, Qwest Communications International has launched a new addition to its portfolio. OneFlex Integrated Access enables small business customers to bundle voice and data services over one high-bandwidth connection.

When no one is making a call, all the bandwidth on the connection is available for their business data needs, such as e-mail and other data applications.

The allocation of bandwidth between voice and data is automatic, unlike older services that require a configuration change to allocate bandwidth between voice and data service, Qwest said.



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