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
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

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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