Skype is coming to a TV near you, thanks to a new partnership with Comcast, a leading provider of cable TV services here in the U.S. This morning, the two companies formally announced a deal that will allow Comcast customers to use Skype's HD video calling on their HD television sets, made available through a Comcast-provided adapter box which works in conjunction with an HD video camera.The video and voice calling service
Customer trials of the new service will begin in "the coming months," but no exact date was given for the service's wider launch, only that more details will be made available "later this year."
How Skype will Work on Comcast-Connected TVs
Comcast users who sign up for the Skype service will be able to make both audio and video calls from their TV, even while watching a TV show at the same time. They will be able to accept incoming calls during a TV show, too, with help from Caller ID.
To use Skype via the TV, an HDTV will be required, plus a broadband connection, an adapter box, a high-quality HD video camera and a specially designed remote control. This remote will allow customers to text on Skype as well as control their television. Everything but the TV will be provided by Comcast, but the price for this Skype kit has not yet been determined.
Customers will also be able to switch from the TV to compatible mobile devices (e.g., smartphones, tablets) and back, the companies state.
This collaboration is a first of its kind for Skype, which has not yet had a partnership with a TV provider in the U.S., but it's not the first time Skype has been made available on the big screen. The company's website lists a number of compatible TVs from partners who offer Skype built-in to the sets themselves.
The new addition of Skype to the TV won't impact Comcast's own phone service, it seems, as the company is planning to disable the Skype feature that lets users call actual phone numbers ("Skype out"). Instead, according to reports, Comcast will bundle a limited version of Skype plus its own phone service to the adapter it provides customers, with plans starting at $20 and up. This feature will not be available at launch, however.
Last month, Microsoft agreed to acquire Skype for $8.5 billion. Under that deal, Microsoft plans to bring Skype to a number of new outlets, too, including TVs by way of the Xbox 360, plus Windows Phone, Lync, Outlook and other Windows devices and communities.