Skype Video Starts Lounge Invasion

US-based cable provider Comcast on Wednesday started rolling out a new service that will bring Skype video calling to customer's living rooms. The service, called Skype on Xfinity, will allow customers to make and receive Skype video and audio calls from their TV in HD. Users will also be able to send instant messages via Skype, while watching TV at the same time.

Skype on Xfinity, which costs $9.95 a month (around £6) on top of cable service, is now available in Boston and Seattle, Comcast said. It will roll out in eight additional markets by the end of the week, including Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Chicago; Detroit; Harrisburg, Pa.; Indianapolis; Miami; and Pittsburgh, before launching in additional markets this summer.

"Through our close collaboration with Skype, we focused on delivering a new product that brings family and friends together through a high-quality video calling experience like never before," said Tony Werner, Comcast Cable's executive vice president and chief technology officer, in a statement.

Customers who sign up for the service will get an HD video camera, along with an adaptor box for their TV, and a specially designed remote control with a full QWERTY keyboard for typing Skype IMs. Customers will, of course, also need Comcast's Triple Play Internet and cable service, and a Skype account to use the new service.

Users will be able to import Skype friends into a global address book that can also contain contacts from Facebook, Outlook, Gmail, and their smartphone. The other calling party does not need any special equipment; they just need to be logged into their Skype account. It would be interesting to see whether Virgin Media strikes a similar deal with Skype.

Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved. Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc.