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Tennessee Telco Inks Deal For IPTV Via Co-Ops

A small telephone company in Lafayette, Tenn. -- North Central Telephone Cooperative -- has signed the first non-beta contract to distribute Internet Protocol TV programming using SES Americom’s IP-PRIME solution, in a deal offered by the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative and the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association.

Today, 22,000-subscriber North Central Telephone offers digital cable to customers but will use IP-PRIME to “supplement” its cable service.

The NRTC and NTCA offer their members an end-to-end IPTV service, which comprises SES Americom’s satellite-delivered IPTV distribution solution plus headend and set-top box solutions, or a programming-only solution for telcos with existing headend facilities. The NRTC said telcos that sign up for IP-PRIME before the end of 2007 will receive discounts on programming.

Two other telcos -- the West Kentucky Rural Telephone Cooperative and North Dakota’s BEK Communications -- are now offering video services through IP-PRIME, while Planters Rural Telephone Cooperative, of Newington, Ga., and Valley Telephone Cooperative, of Raymondville, Texas, will launch customer trials later this year.

The NRTC represents more than 1,400 rural utilities and affiliates that serve more than 10 million households, while the NTCA represents more than 560 locally owned and controlled telecommunications cooperatives and commercial companies.