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Rural telecom eyeing big city

Hancock Telecom plans a major expansion of its phone-line-delivered television service into surrounding counties-possibly giving AT&T stiff competition beyond that from cable and satellite television.

The Maxwell-based telecommunications firm also is eyeing wider service in its back yard of Greenfield, according to an Aug. 22 filing with the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission.

Hancock Telecom’s Hancock Communications unit is requesting a designated service area for Cadiz, Greenfield, Kennard, Markleville and the counties of Hamilton, Marion and Shelby.

In 2005, the 10,000-member customer phone cooperative became the first telephone company in the region to launch the “triple play” of phone, video and Internet service.

Later, AT&T followed in the metro area with its so-called Internet protocol television service, or IPTV-marketed as U-Verse.

AT&T keeps its subscriber numbers under wraps, but it has been busy building infrastructure in neighborhoods to push its own bundle of television/phone/video from fiber-optic cables through ordinary copper wires that enter the home.

IPTV technology can be challenging, particularly in providing reliable signals to homes farthest from neighborhood distribution nodes.

Part of Hancock’s approach has been to roll out fiber directly to the home.

Hancock did not disclose its pricing strategy for the proposed territories. It currently offers triple play packages ranging from $100 to $160 a month.

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