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Cable Technology Feature Article

July 01, 2014

Cablevision Launches Home HD Voice

By Doug Mohney, Contributing Editor

Without a lot of fanfare, Cablevision is rolling out an HD voice service to its home subscribers in New York and surrounding areas.  This marks the first time a large cable company has introduced HD voice to its consumers and could indicate how the rest of the cable industry will go over the next 12 to 18 months.

Cablevision was the first large cable company to roll out HD voice to its business customers five years ago.  Other firms only started rolling out HD voice over the past two years, so Cablevision has clearly been ahead of the pack in terms of embracing HD voice. The company reported it had 2.8 million on voice customers at the end of the first quarter of 2014, so this is a pretty significant "HD voice capable" island.

Optimum (News - Alert) Voice, Cablevision's consumer service, is currently rolling out HD voice in "select services areas" and will have it available across its entire footprint over the next two months.  Subscribers initially desiring the service will be supplied with CAT-iq 2.0 phones, according to a company spokesperson, marking the first time a major U.S. cable company has deployed the wireless DECT (News - Alert)-based technology.

The most intriguing statement buried within Cablevision's release is an announcement of "Interoperability" with other HD voice services. Exactly what this means is unclear, but connectivity either via IntelPeer or another independent exchange would open up a number of existing G.722 landline based services, while the cable companies themselves already support HD voice "islands" within their business services. Will Cablevision be able to exchange HD voice calls via transcoding with the mobile world? The company didn't say.

Another way to play Kremlinology (Look it up younger readers) with the statement is to imply that Cablevision's HD voice move will be followed in due time by other cable companies.  Comcast (News - Alert) has been making noises forever about launching a consumer HD voice service, but the recent wave of cellular HD voice announcements by AT&T, Sprint (News - Alert), and T-Mobile US might be the tipping point for moving forward. 

If the rest of the major cable companies deploy HD voice on their own, it also casts some doubts upon efforts for the FCC to "mandate" HD voice as a next generation voice standard with the PSTN to IP transition.

If the cable industry can manage to deploy HD voice on its own, why should the FCC have to establish a landline HD voice mandate for the phone companies?  The landline industry has "had" HD voice in the form of ISDN for over a decade, albeit covered in tariffs.  Why can't AT&T (News - Alert) and Verizon deliver HD voice over their existing broadband services without the need for government blessing or mandates in the IP transition?  AT&T, through its support of at least one lobbying effort, seems to believe it needs the FCC to tell it what to do.


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