NRTC Names Two Broadband Partners

The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative announced Monday that it
has signed strategic partnerships with Hughes Network Systems' DirecPC division
and StarBand Communications Inc. to provide two-way high-speed Internet services
via satellite.

The NRTC serves rural communities across the country.

'Rural Americans were among the first to embrace satellite technology,' NRTC
president Bob Phillips said in a press release.

The NRTC markets DirecTV Inc. direct-broadcast satellite services within its
member territories, as well as programming for larger C-band satellite dishes.
EchoStar Communications Corp. competes for rural customers with its Dish Network
DBS service.

EchoStar dealers also help to market StarBand service by bundling it with
Dish DBS service.

StarBand said Monday that it has signed 25,000 customers to its
high-speed-data service. Last week, the company withdrew plans for an initial
public offering of its stock.