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Comcast connects Skype HD videoconferencing to the living room TV

Convergence & VoIP Alert By , Network World
May 22, 2012 03:07 PM ET
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VoIP, unified messaging, products and services

Network World - In advance of this year's NCTA "The Cable Show" being held in Boston, Comcast launched its Skype on Xfinity service, offering HD videoconferencing to Comcast consumers in Atlanta, Boston, Augusta, Ga., Chicago, Detroit, Harrisburg, Pa., Indianapolis, Miami, Seattle and Pittsburgh. Additional markets will launch through the summer.

Commenting in a statement, Tony Werner, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Comcast Cable, said, "We're continuing to build innovative communication services like Skype on Xfinity that will allow our customers to interact in new ways with the people they care about the most. Through our close collaboration with Skype, we focused on delivering a new product that brings family and friends together through a high-quality video calling experience like never before."

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With the Skype on Xfinity service customers will also be able to:

• Make and receive Skype-to-Skype video and audio calls or send instant messages via Skype on a TV while watching their favorite TV show at the same time, and accept incoming Skype calls during a TV show with the help of Caller ID.

• Import Skype friends into a global address book which can also contain Facebook, Outlook, Gmail and smartphone contacts so subscribers can find friends who already use Skype and see when contacts are online and available to talk.

• Communicate with the hundreds of millions of connected Skype users around the globe, whether on a Skype-enabled TV, PC or mobile device.

The service is $9.95 monthly, and it is available to customers who also subscribe to a qualified Comcast triple play. The service fee includes rental of an adaptor box, a high-quality video camera, and a specially designed remote control that controls the TV volume and gives customers a keyboard for instant messaging. For Skype-to-Skype calls or instant messages, the other calling party does not need any special equipment beyond what is needed to use Skype; they simply need to be logged into their Skype account.

Read more about voip & convergence in Network World's VoIP & Convergence section.

Steve Taylor is president of Distributed Networking Associates and publisher/editor-in-chief of Webtorials. Larry Hettick, an independent analyst and consultant, is a 30-year industry veteran. He has covered VoIP and UC at Network World for 12 years.

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