Comcast Digital Voice: HomePoint in HDVoice?

Comcast LogoA couple of weeks ago we received a promotional mailer from Comcast about their new Digital Voice service with the optional HomePoint. If I might quote Robert Plant, “Ooooooh, it makes me wonder.” Is Comcast doing anything with respect to HDVoice?

I had forgotten about HomePoint, the cordless phone that Comcast was promoting as a premium voice option. Doug Mohney pointed out it’s soft launch back in October 2009, when not too much was known about the hardware or the service.

I was reminded about it when I had to pay Comcast a visit to get a cablecard for our second TivoHD, just after the Christmas holidays.Comcast has a promotional poster up in the sales center. I took a quick picture with the camera in my Blackberry, but it didn’t reveal very much about the service.

The flier that arrived last week was a little more informative. Also, Comcast has put up a section of their web site promoting the service, and the various features to be found in the HomePoint handset.

I’m sure that HomePoint is really swell, but I don’t see anything there that’s tremendously compelling. In fact, I’m kind of reminded of the info portal aspect of the Gigaset DECT phones, which we still have around here.

I suspect that the limited size of the LCD display on the handset is the defining thing about how genuinely useful the hardware might be. But since I’ve not actually had one to try I’m only guessing. If you have one and love it I’d certainly like to know.

The HomePoint hardware is made by Thomson. The base, or Advanced Cable Gateway, is a converged cpe, combining the functions of a cable modem with the digital voice analog terminal adapter, and finally a DECT 6.0 base. The cordless phone handset is an option. I gather that you can get them from Comcast, but Thomson also appears to be selling them online.

The very fact that the hardware includes DECT 6.0 capability means there there’s some chance that it’s also CATiq compliant, and therefore G.722 capable. Yes, while Comcast refers to its Digital Voice service as “#1 in call clarity” they are making no effort to highlight the wideband capability of the HomePoint offering.

Given that Comcast is the #3 telco in the US, if this device or something like it was broadly deployed on their network they could very easily be the biggest provider of wideband voice service in the country. It would be very interesting to locate two HomePoint users and see if we can determine if calls between two HomePoint systems are in fact wideband. It would possibly need to be two HomePoint systems in the same city.

The Thomson site is interesting because it has links to the manuals for both the Advanced Cable Gateway and the Accessory Handset. The manual for the gateway doesn’t say anything about CATiq or G.722, however there is a page near the end where it clearly indicates that a number of handsets can register to the gateway…some in wideband and others in narrowband.

Curious….very curious indeed.