Cincinnati Bell Brings SpinVox Home

Cincinnati Bell today introduced the Smart Home Phone, a smartphone for home use that includes visual voicemail features from SpinVox and allows customers to send and receive SMS text messages.

Cincinnati Bell is the first carrier in the country to make text messaging available as a home-phone calling feature, and the first to offer the visual voicemail feature to home subscribers. The telephone and Internet service provider began offering the SpinVox visual voicemail feature, which lets users view a list of voicemail messages received, listen to them in order of importance, or have them automatically converted and sent as text, to its wireless customers in 2007.

"I think SpinVox is a really cool service, and when people get a shot at using it, they tend to keep it," says David Heimbach, vice president of product development at Cincinnati Bell. "We wanted to take it out of the wireless arena and make it available to people on their home phones."

Using the Smart Home Phone’s cordless handset, customers can send and receive SMS text messages to and from any text-message-enabled phone around the world. To send messages, they simply tap them out on the phone's alphanumeric keypad, much as they would with a regular cell phone.

The Smart Home Phone also allows Cincinnati Bell landline customers to look up and connect with local businesses in the Yellow Pages and read real-time, Internet-based content, such as news, weather, and sports scores, at the push of a button.

“It’s time the home phone provided the same conveniences as a wireless phone,” Heimbach says.

Beyond that, the offering is another way for Cincinnati Bell "to get out of the pile, doing anything we can to differentiate ourselves from the competition," he adds.

To use any of these Smart Home Phone services, residents must subscribe to Cincinnati Bell's home phone and ZoomTown high-speed Internet service. "The base connects to a typical phone line, but also has an ethernet jack on it that uses [Session Initiation Protocol] to communicate," Heimbach explains.

The Smart Home Phone handset sells for $29.99 for customers who have a ZoomTown and home phone bundle. The regular retail price is $129.99. In addition, Smart Home Phone customers will receive three months of free text messaging and SpinVox service, with the option to purchase unlimited texting for $9.99 per month and unlimited SpinVox for $5.99 per month after the trial period.

Designing the technology platform to accommodate additional integrated features, Cincinnati Bell plans to introduce Smart Home Phone access to wireless address books, white pages, and email in the future. Other product enhancements in the future may include a touchscreen panel and predictive text capabilities, according to Heimbach.

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