Cablevision Set to Launch Caller ID on TV

Cablevision Systems plans to roll out a caller ID on TV feature to triple-play subscribers in November, and while the operator would not disclose whether it will charge for the feature it historically has introduced such incremental enhancements for no extra charge.

The feature, which pops up the phone number and name of an incoming caller on a subscriber's TV screen, will be available to customers who subscribe to Cablevision’s iO digital cable, Optimum Online and Optimum Voice services.

For at least a year, Cablevision has listed “caller ID on TV” on a section of its Web site listing current and future Optimum Voice features.

“Now you can see who's calling right on your television,” the site’s description reads. “All of the standard caller ID information will appear on your television screen as well as your phone -- so you won't have to miss a second of your favorite show!”

Cablevision senior advisor of engineering and technology Wilt Hildenbrand said getting caller ID on TV into production required writing the on-screen application, which runs on Scientific Atlanta's set-top box software, as well as having the foresight to use set-top boxes with built-in cable modems.

Just as important, Hildenbrand said, Cablevision had originally deployed the Siemens softswitch system that powers the Optimum Voice service with an eye toward someday providing this kind of feature. “It grew out of some of the other applications that are already aware of messaging,” he said.

At the same time, Hildenbrand said, integrating IP-based voice with set-tops was “a little more science” than it would have been using a circuit-switched phone system.

Time Warner Cable is among other operators that have deployed caller ID on TV, offering the feature in various markets including San Antonio, Texas; Columbia, S.C.; and Rochester and Albany, N.Y.