There are many ways that the cable industry has expanded consumer choice. You don’t have to be that old to remember a time when you had maybe a half-dozen TV viewing choices – maybe a few more, maybe less – and now you probably have hundreds. Not that long ago, it was the same situation with the telephone.
A couple years ago, NCTA created a video to explain cable’s impact on America. Take a look and skip ahead about two minutes in. That image of the phone industry as stodgy is amusing because it was so true. Rotary dials, touch-tone, mobile phones – the pace of these innovations was pretty slow.
But today, consumers are finally enjoying true facilities based competition in local phone service. Cable’s service is reliable plus it offers many of the standard features for a great price. Generally, you get unlimited calls anywhere in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. You get to keep your current home phones, wall jacks and phone number. Many operators include services like Call Waiting, Caller ID, Call Forwarding, Speed Dial, and so on. But you also see features like digital voicemail that can be accessed over the Internet from any location, and new features like Caller ID on the TV are beginning to be introduced in some communities.
How does cable’s digital phone service work?
Cable’s phone service relies on new technology, different from traditional circuit-switched telephone service that uses 100-year old copper wires. Cable’s voice calls are traveling over the same fiber optic lines on your local cable system that are also carrying digital video, high-speed Internet and other services.
Through the use of software, calls from a cable phone household are placed over an IP-based data network and voice is transmitted with data “packets.” You may have heard of some VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) phone services before, but their IP data packets travel over the public Internet. Cable phone providers are sometimes referred to as being “facilities-based,” since they move IP data packets over their private managed IP networks, offering end-to-end quality of service monitoring, while still interconnecting with the PSTN as necessary.
Bottom line: Consumers have a lot more choices today when it comes to talking to friends and family over the phone. Cable’s phone offering offers a great option for people looking for both useful features and savings.