Update: If shabby treatment of its customers and draconian policies are any indication, then Comcast (s CMCSA) has been behaving like a plain-old phone company for a long time. I say that because the company emailed us today to let us know that it’s now the third-largest residential phone company in the U.S., ahead of Qwest (s Q). While not as innovative as, say, Cablevision, I see Comcast as a fast follower with the ability to sell me-too products in volume. The Philadelphia-based cable operator offers “Digital Voice” IP-based phone service in 39 states to 6.47 million customers.
I’m surprised that it’s managed to sign up so many customers, considering that its packages are anything but cheap. Comcast is not the only one selling a lot of voice connections — other cable operators such as Time Warner Cable (s TWC) are doing well and putting the hurt on traditional phone companies. The rising fortune of cable companies’ voice business is in sharp contrast to dedicated VoIP service providers like Vonage (s V), which has been struggling to keep its early momentum. (Related Posts: Who killed the VoIP revolution? and Is Cable VoIP getting a sore throat?)
Update: * Qwest says it has 7.8 million lines, and as a result Comcast’s claim may not be quite right, though we wonder if Q is including its enterprise customers in the total to bolster its claim. We checked with them, and as expected, these include 1.3 million small business users and 6.5 million residential users. From that perspective, Comcast did make a legit claim.