Comcast takes covers off its Homepoint VoIP service

Verizon may have overshot its ambitions with its failed Hub VoIP home phone service, but Comcast thinks its Homepoint device, which offers similar functions, won't suffer the same fate. Initially launched in its Fort Myers, Fla. market, sources say that other markets will soon follow. HomePoint combines an 802.11A/G router and VoIP to enable subscribers to not only check e-mail, but also manage contacts and access visual voice mail.

The device, which is being manufactured by Thompson, offers users two Ethernet ports, one RJ-11 port, and a battery backup. Broadband DSL Reports said that users can rent the device from Comcast for $5 a month, a $2 increase over what it currently charges for its eMTA VoIP hardware. Customers pay $39.99 for the handset units with the ability to use up to five with the system.

However, Homepoint is not without its limitations. For one, the handset's web functions are limited to conducting simple tasks such as checking weather, news and sports. Not only that but Homepoint can only handle one phone number and can't be integrated with a user's existing home alarm system. Nonetheless, Comcast believes it can use Homepoint not only to attract new customers, but use it as way to retain its existing VoIP subscriber base. During Q2 09, Comcast reported that it only signed on 233,000 new digital voice customers versus 550,000 new subscribers in Q2 08.

Of course, the question is will Comcast be able to succeed where Verizon failed with its Hub service? With so many other smart phone devices that offer similar functions as HomePoint, Comcast will have an uphill battle convincing users that HomePoint will add value to their already crowded home network.

For more:
- Broadband DSL Reports has this post
- Cable Digital News also had this analysis

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