EATEL Rolls Out On-Screen Caller ID

A little phone company turned multichannel video provider outside Baton Rouge, La., is going back to its roots with a value-added feature for TV.

EATEL, which serves about 30,000 subscribers, has rolled out an on-screen caller ID for viewers who take both phone and digital video service.

Product Development Manager Toby DuBois says the company is looking at ways "to marry everything" as it competes for the hearts, minds and wallets of consumers with lots of options.

The phone call shows up as a bar on the bottom of the screen with the name and number. The feature also includes a channel dedicated to the ID service where calls are logged and some features can be customized, including duration of the pop-up bar, whether the phone rings or not, and which lines ring to which set-top boxes, assuming multiples of each.

That means if your kid has their own phone and TV, the caller ID can be made to show up only on their TV. Or-- if you're a parent of teenage daughters--only on mom and pop's TV in the bedroom.

Director of sales and marketing Brad Supple calls it a video enhancement--the company isn't charging extra for it--but doesn't deny that any subscriptions the company can migrate from analog to digital with the feature will be OK with them.

Cable companies are trying to move their customers off bandwidth-hungry analog to free up space for advance features like, well, video caller ID.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.