Comcast Adds Text Appeal For Voice Subs

Comcast -- looking to give customers two new reasons to keep their landlines -- is offering Xfinity Voice Unlimited Nationwide plan subscribers free, unlimited text messaging from mobile apps plus the ability to receive transcribed voicemail messages via e-mail.

The operator declined to disclose the vendors it is using to provide the new features. Comcast "soft launched" the texting and voicemail-to-email capabilities in its Xfinity Mobile apps late last year and into January, according to spokesman Charlie Douglas.

Comcast is still adding voice subscribers but growth is slowing in the segment. In 2011, the company posted a net gain of 732,000 voice customers, to 9.3 million, whereas it added 988,000 the year prior.

"We're bringing millions of Xfinity Voice customers free access to innovative features that have typically been associated either with their wireless plans or with business use," Cathy Avgiris, Comcast executive vice president and general manager of data and communications services, said in announcing the new features. "We're evolving our service to go well beyond a traditional home phone experience, and, at the same time, save our customers money on their wireless bills."

Comcast's Xfinity Mobile apps, for Apple and Android-based smartphones and tablets, let voice customers send and receive text messages for free using their home phone number. Text messages can be sent to anyone in the U.S., Canada and three dozen other countries.

The readable voicemail feature provides a transcription of a customer's voicemail that can be read in an email message, and forwarded to multiple email addresses. Users also can request to receive an audio file of the voicemail as an attachment.

The text messaging and voicemail-to-email features are also available via the Xfinity Connect web portal at The site lets Comcast customers access to email, voicemail, contacts, calendars and DVR management features.