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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 23, 2012

The Cable Show 2012: Comcast Adds Free IP calling, Multiple Numbers to Voice Offering

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Comcast (News - Alert) has announced Voice 2go, a new suite of popular mobile features to its Xfinity Voice home phone service. Users of smartphones such as Android and Apple iThing (iPhone, iPad, iPod) family devices will now get free IP calling – voice and text -- over wireless data networks, the ability to forward calls  to multiple devices and adding virtual phone numbers to existing service.

Wireless IP network calling includes support for Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G networks, with calls made using a redesigned Xfinity Connect Mobile app.  Comcast points out that, “calls within the home or on a public Wi-Fi hotspot are free and calls can be made using a 4G or 3G wireless plan, which don’t use wireless minutes.” 

Both “free calling” benefits via Xfinity Connect Mobile are interesting.  On Monday, Bright House Networks, Cox, Optimum, Time Warner (News - Alert) Cable and Xfinity announced CableWiFi, a “collaboration” of cable companies to share each others’ Wi-Fi hotspots, over 50,000 in all.  A Cox user, such as myself, should be able to travel from my home territory in Northern Virginia and be able to login to hotspots in any service area of the service providers above.

Making a call over a 3G or 4G wireless plan is a little more problematic. Sure, using the app won’t burn voice minutes, but it will count against data minutes and the only mobile company still offering an unlimited plan these days is Sprint (News - Alert) --- all the more ironic, given Sprint’s falling out with the cable world with Verizon Wireless being the new trophy wife.

Multi-ring call forwarding has been around for a while in the CLEC world, but I haven’t seen anyone brag about it recently. Xfinity Voice customers will be able to forward calls to up to four additional phones or devices and calls can be received on the Apple (News - Alert) iThing Xfinity Connect mobile app.  It’s a nice feature to add in the multi-device world of phones and tablets.

Virtual numbers, what Comcast calls “Personal Phone Numbers,” have also been kicking around for a while in different variants.  Comcast presents Personal Phone Numbers that can be assigned for up to four other family members, so children can get their own house phone numbers and (presumably) take them with them once they leave the household; you can’t buy more numbers at this time.

The new Voice 2go package is accessible through the Xfinity Connect Mobile app, which can be downloaded for free on the iTunes Store or Android (News - Alert) Market as well as online through Xfinity Connect online.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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