As cable expands the presence of HD and video at retail, it might want to consider pushing telephony, too. Vonage said Fri that Circuit City [CC] will be the 1st national retailer to offer its telephony service in all 600 of its stores and online. While services like Vonage could help drive high-speed data for cable, they also represent competition in the telephony market-and now that competition has its foot inside retail doors. Cable obviously can’t have the same nationwide retail message as a service like Vonage, but it can reach out and touch someone on a local level. For the most part, MSOs haven’t done much with phone at retail. Cablevision [CVC] launched VoIP in Sept, but doesn’t offer the service in stores. It’s a possibility down the road, however. Telephony, primarily circuit switch, has been part of the Cox [COX] bundle for a longer time, and accordingly, Cox has done a bit more on the retail front. Cox makes literature available that talks about phone service in retail markets where it has launched telephony. And since customers who select a Cox service through Go2Broadband receive a follow-up phone call from the MSO, it can use that as an opportunity to sell them on telephony. Before year-end, Cox hopes to test-market "more explicit" retail telephony sales, Cox says. The idea hasn’t received much industry-wide attention yet. "The CTAM Retail Committee hasn’t done any work on telephone service at retail, but the growth in cable telephony makes that a reasonable option for the future," CTAM svp Seth Morrison says. Appropriately, CTAM Digital & Broadband’s kick-off session tomorrow is "The Next Big Thing…Cable Phone," which will look more at the operational challenges, consumer research and early marketing lessons. As for Vonage’s Circuit City deal, customers who purchase starter kits and sign up in store will get 2 free months of service and free activation.

The Daily


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