Cablevision has announced Optimum Voice World Call, a new VoIP calling plan that will let users make 500 minutes of calls to anywhere in the world for a flat rate of $19.95 a month.
If I am Skype or Vonage, I am very worried- not only because of the strategy but because of who is executing it.
Cablevision, you see, is based in Long Island, N.Y., and has subscribers in New Jersey and Connecticut as well. Perhaps more than any other metropolitan area in North America, Cablevision's broadband Internet service area is full of world-callers.
There are two prime generators of international calling in the U.S.- family calling, often tying in with ethnicity; and business calling, often relating to the presence of companies with international offices in various world cities.
Cablevision's 500 minutes of free international calling a month sounds like an effective counter-strategy against Skype, and their low two cents a minute calling rates to some countries.
Yes, I know that Cablevision's plan effectively pencils out to four cents a minute, but that's four cents a minute pretty much everywhere. Plus, with Cablevision you get an inbound calling number thrown in. With Skype, you have to buy a SkypeIn number for those folks you call to call you back from their phone line.
Plus, the demographic melting pot nature of Cablevision's coverage area includes lots of potential callers to countries where Skype calls cost a good bit more than four cents a minute.
And yes, I know that Vonage is throwing in free calling to five European nations, but that's based on a higher-dollar base monthly subscription fee of $24.99 for Premium Unlimited vs. $19.99 for Cablevision.
And did I mention that unlike Skype and Vonage, Cablevision is in a position to promote Optimum Voice World Call to new and existing customers as part of a service bundle that includes broadband Internet access and digital cable television?