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In one word, marketing. The cable phone telephone offerings use VoIP to provide digital phone lines to their customers but do not want to be linked with the lower cost VoIP companies.
In fairness to the cable operators, they do offer a higher quality VoIP service as they provide digital phone services over managed private networks. A private network does not experience the delays or echos experienced over the public Internet.
The cable companies such as Comcast, Shaw and Cox also provide proprietary digital filtering techniques to further enhance signal quality.
Technically speaking, ALL such services are VoIP AND digital telephony. In actual usage, the term digital telephone refers to services offered by a cable company and VoIP, to services offered by providers transmitting voice packets over the public Internet.
If you opt for a digital phone service, make sure that you review ALL charges when making your decision between providers. Many cable companies charge a rental fee for the equipment provided that is not immediately obviously from their promotional literature.
Be safe, be sure that the provider you choose provides 911 dialing in YOUR area. Read all disclosures carefully, and make sure the 911 emergency center your calls go to is the right one. Although the lack of 911 services plagued the early VoIP based offerings, today's digital cable telephone services ALL offer 911 dialing. Many also offer E-911 dialing, which is enhanced 911 used by the cellular services. This service helps save lives as your exact location is sent to the emergency personnel contacted along with your call. Your name is also automatically identified.
Most of the VoIP non-cable company offerings also provide 911 calling, but do have some areas in which it can't be offered. All companies are required by law to disclose their 911 coverage and offerings, be sure to review the disclosures provided by your chosen company carefully. You will be required to acknowledge your carrier's 911 notification, which will be mailed or electronically delivered to you.
The dream and vision of most cable service providers is seamless integration of all communications services. What does this mean to you, the consumer?
In the not-too-distant future, cable customers will be able to see caller IDs displayed on their TV sets when calls come in. Voice mail indicators will come up in the corner of your TV set, and Internet connections to your TV will allow you to vote in real time for your favorite American Idol singer or sports team. Websites relating to your TV content will be accessible on the same screen, and clicking a link on this screen is all it will take to make a phone call while watching TV.
Called "convergence" by those in the technology fields, this integration of communications services promises to make many new applications available which aren't yet even a glimmer in the imaginations of the cable engineers now.
The dream is to have everything fully interactive, which is why cable companies have begun offering digital phone systems for their customers. If you want to be well positioned for the future, it makes sense to become a "Triple-play" cable customer now.
Instead of using an analog phone signal over traditional telephone wires, digital phone services break down voice information into "packets", and send them over data lines to allow voice and data to travel on the same pipe. Analog phone service is also referred to as "circuit-switched" telephone or the PSTN (public switched telephone network).
Known as "Voice-over-Internet-Protocol" or VoIP, digital phone service costs are greatly reduced as voice and data can share the same lines. Features are also carried along with the phone signal, greatly reducing the costs to the carriers which are passed along to you. VoIP services offered over the public Internet are
also offered at much lower rates, as there are no costs associated with the maintenance of a private network. The trade-off is cost vs. reliable phone call quality.
Cable giant Cox Communications offers cable phone service that covers both local and long distance service, and works over a private broadband connection for great voice quality.
A clear benefit of switching to Cox for cable phone service is the availability of bundled cable TV, Internet, and digital phone services - resulting in one bill each month instead of three,with reduced costs for each. Cox offers three features packages to allow users to select just what they need. The most comprehensive package, Solutions, is offered for $15.95/month in the Orange County area (pricing varies between regions), and includes:
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|