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Verizon Debuts Caller ID On FiOS TV In Three Markets

Verizon launched its first caller ID on TV services -- after trailing major cable operators with the feature -- for FiOS TV customers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Texas.

The feature, available to qualifying customers for no additional charge, will see incoming caller ID information displayed for several seconds in the corner of their TV screen. They can then decide if they want to pause the current program and answer the call, or continue watching TV and let the call go to voicemail.

Verizon and AT&T, the U.S.'s largest telco, have been behind the cable industry with caller ID on the TV. MSOs that widely offer the feature include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Cablevision Systems.

Verizon plans to introduce the service in other FiOS markets over the next few weeks, spokesman Cliff Lee said, but he didn't provide details on where and when the feature will appear next.

The service requires customers to have FiOS TV and a FiOS voice service and subscribe to regular caller ID service, according to Lee. And, in some cases, subscribers might also have to take FiOS Internet as well.

If customers have both FiOS TV and FiOS Digital Voice -- the telco's voice-over-IP service  -- they don't need to also be a FiOS Internet subscriber. Those customers will only need to check the "Settings" category on the interactive media guide's main menu on the TV and then click on "Caller ID" to determine if the service is available to them.

"FiOS Digital Voice is only available on a limited basis at this time in most FiOS markets," including those in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Texas, Lee said.

If customers do not subscribe to FiOS Digital Voice or if it's not currently available in their area, Verizon is also making caller ID on TV available to those who have standard voice service as long as they also have FiOS Internet. The Internet service is necessary because that is how a FiOS customer gets access to the Verizon Call Assistant service to activate and manage the caller ID on TV menus, Lee explained.

Separately Thursday, Verizon said FiOS TV subs in New Jersey, Delaware and the greater Philadelphia region received upgrades this week to their interactive media guide which provided a number of new features, including: personalized video-on-demand recommendations; the ability to order premium programming packages from Showtime and ESPN; gaming widgets; and simplified navigation with the addition of shortcuts in the guide.

Verizon does not charge extra for the new guide features, which have already been available in other FiOS markets includes New York and Massachusetts.