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Cable Operator Mediacom Partners With Sprint

In the latest alliance between a cable and telephone company, cable operator Mediacom Communications Corp. on Wednesday said it would use Sprint Corp.'s network to eventually offer Internet telephony to the 2.7 million households reached by Mediacom.

Mediacom, the nation's eighth-largest cable company, said it plans to begin rolling out the voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) service in the first half of 2005, making it available to all households within its 23-state region by the end of 2006.

As part of the agreement, calls will first travel over Mediacom's cable wires, then Sprint will switch them over to the public switched telephone network. The Overland Park, Kan., telecom will also provide long distance, 911 emergency service and directory assistance.

Mediacom, based in Middleton, N.Y., has 1.5 million cable subscribers, mostly in small and midsize cities and rural areas. The company also services parts of a few bit cities, such as Los Angeles and Chicago.

The Mediacom/Sprint deal follows a trend among cable operators to develop bundles of phone, television and high-speed Internet access to undercut comparable services bought separately from individual companies. Cable companies have come under increasing competitive pressure from telephone companies also looking to sell the same kind of service packages to consumers. Satellite TV companies have also cut into cable's traditional market.

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