Cablevision Plans to Link Internet Phones With Cellular Networks

Cable operator Cablevision Systems Corp. (CVC) said on Tuesday it plans to make its digital home phone network compatible with any U.S. wireless network, allowing subscribers to transfer calls between the two.

Patricia Gottesman, Cablevision's executive vice-president of product management and marketing, told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference the company had "aggressive" plans to deliver such a service but gave no time frame.

Cable companies and telephone companies have talked about converging wireline and wireless services for years, but no major operator has yet to launch such a product.

"Our network can allow us to have fixed line convergence with any wireless carrier that our customers prefer," Gottesman told a Standard & Poor's Telecommunications Conference.

She told Reuters: "We think there are enormous opportunities ... to converge with wireless services from all major providers."

A source close to the company said its digital phone network, which delivers calls over the Internet, is compatible with wireless networks, allowing one phone to be used as both a cellphone and a home phone.

Cablevision, which has 3 million subscribers predominantly in the Long Island, New York area, says 20 percent of its cable television subscribers also take its digital phone service.

The company was the only major cable operator not to join Sprint-Nextel Corp. (S) in forming a joint venture, first announced in November 2005, that aimed to explore combining mobile phone services with television, home phone and Internet services.

Operators including Comcast Corp. (CMCSA), Time Warner Inc.'s (TWX) cable unit and Cox Communications joined the venture.