Time Warner partners with MCI, Sprint on IP telephony

Time Warner Cable, a division of Time Warner Inc., on Dec. 8 announced partnerships with MCI and Sprint Corp. that should help it to roll out its IP voice service across the U.S.

Time Warner Cable, which introduced voice-over-IP services in parts Maine and North Carolina earlier this year, will be able to roll out IP voice services to the rest of the U.S. thanks to the partnerships, according to MCI spokeswoman Debbie Lewis.

The agreements with Sprint and MCI, which is still officially known as WorldCom Inc., will allow Time Warner Cable to “continue its aggressive rollout throughout next year,” according to a press release.

The service should available in most U.S. markets by the end of 2004, said Time Warner Cable spokesman Keith Cocozza.

“Our plan has been to roll it out across the country,” he said.

The three companies did not disclose the terms of the multi-year deals.

MCI and Sprint will help roll out the IP voice service by recruiting customers, moving IP voice traffic to the public switched telephone network, carrying long distance traffic and delivering enhanced 911 service and local number portability, the company said.

Voice over IP services compete with traditional wireline telephone services. Time Warner Cable’s Digital Phone service includes unlimited local, in-state and domestic long-distance calling for one monthly price.

Consumers who switch to Digital Phone can keep their existing phone numbers and retain their directory listings. Standard features of the service include 411 directory assistance, enhanced 911, call waiting, caller ID and voicemail.

The residential phone service connects to each telephone jack in the home.

Asked if he expected the Time Warner Cable offering to compete successfully with traditional phone service, Cocozza noted that more than 8,000 customers have signed up in Portland, Maine, since Time Warner Cable began offering the service there in May.

The service includes local calling and long distance for a set monthly fee and Cocozza said he expects the product will be competitive elsewhere.

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