Telcos go live with IP-Prime

IP-Prime is officially live. As FierceIPTV reported last week, the turnkey IPTV platform provided by two telco lobbies and SES Americom is available commercially. North Central Telephone Co-op of Lafayette, Tenn., became the first non-beta telco to launch IP-Prime. North Central is upgrading to a hybrid plant consisting of 5,000 feet of copper lines and fiber-to-the-home beyond, using loops supplied by Occam Networks in Santa Barbara, Calif.

West Kentucky Rural Telephone Co-op, a 19,000 subscriber telco in Mayfield, Ky., and BEK Communications, a 6,000-sub system in Steele, N.D., went commercial this week with IP-Prime. Both had been beta test sites for more than a year. Two more beta sites are scheduled to go commercial later this year.

The National Telecommunications Cooperative Association and the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative came together with the satellite distributor in Princeton, N.J., two years ago to develop the IP-Prime offering so small carriers could launch IPTV without extensive build-outs or fierce programming negotiations. The two lobbies together represent nearly 2,000 local phone companies and rural utilities.

Telcos can opt for the entire MPEG-4 infrastructure, right down to the set-top boxes, or just the programming, which originates from SES Americom's Vernon Valley, N.J., facility. The programming option is attractive because negotiation with the likes of Fox and Disney can be brutal. Keith Galitz, president and general manager of Canby Telecom in Canby, Ore., has pegged programming as his IPTV operation's biggest expense. Galitz also said he'd be looking at IP-Prime to take Canby MPEG-4, and thus, HD capable. That's one less advantage for cable.

For More:
- The word from NRTC and NTCA is here
- Multichannel News has the summary of North Central's launch here

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