Comcast partners with Skype for TV calling

Posted by Mark Raby

Comcast aims to bring Skype to the TV-watching masses.

The cable service provider made a joint announcement with the voice-over IP company (now owned by Microsoft) today.

Existing Comcast subscribers who wish to take advantage of the service will of course need some new equipment, including a set-top camera and a special texting-friendly remote control.

The actual Skype software and connectivity to the Internet, however, will be powered by the existing cable box.

Users on the receiving end can accept the video calls and messages from their computer, or if they happen to have Comcast as well, they can initiate a TV-to-TV call.

Skype does already exist in the TV space, with special apps available on smart, Internet-connected TV platforms like Samsung's Internet@TV. This announcement, however, is designed to make the service much more accessible.

"Our unique relationship with Skype not only will change how our customers interact with their TV, but also will create new and meaningful ways to bring our customers closer to the people they care about. TV has evolved into a social experience, and Comcast and Skype will be delivering a product that personalizes the TV experience even more, and brings friends and family together through the biggest screen in their homes," said Comcast president Neil Smit in a statement.

Select customers will be given the opportunity to try the new service in the coming months. Comcast expects to roll out the service to all users by the end of the year. Details about the additional equipment - how much it will cost and whether customers will own or lease the camera/remote - as well as fees for the Skype service itself have yet to be announced.