Midwest Phone Companies From Group to Promote Telco TV

Fourteen Minnesota telephone companies have formed Broadband Visions LLC, a consortium to share the costs of delivering DTV over telco lines and strengthening its competitive stance with cable and satellite TV. The companies will use the collective strength of the new enterprise to purchase the "Telco-TV" digital headend platform from Next Level Communications that delivers 130 channels of digital television as well as telephone and Internet services.

The telcos are hoping that a bundled service approach that delivers Internet, telephone services and digital TV services that reflect regional interest will gain momentum with customers looking for "triple play" service.

The group shares the cost of a single, digital head-end and negotiates as a unit for television content, which increases the ability of smaller telephone companies to compete, organizers say. Broadband Visions members, which reach 200,000 homes in Minnesota now deliver TV services to nearly 14,000 subscribers, a 42 percent increase over last year.

Broadband Visions is the largest consortium of telcos providing shared broadcast television content in the U.S.