KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Sprint Corp. and cable television provider Mediacom Communications Corp. made public an agreement yesterday that will allow Sprint to offer Internet telephone service to Mediacom's 2.7 million household subscribers.
Mediacom, the nation's eighth-largest cable provider, said it hopes to begin offering the service to its customers in 23 states early next year. It's based in Middletown, N.Y.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
This is the third agreement Overland Park, Kan.-based Sprint has revealed in the last eight months in which it will help a cable provider offer telephone services using a technology called ''voice over Internet protocol."
This month, Sprint said it was teaming up with USA Cos. of Kearney, Neb., to provide services to that company's 63,000 subscribers. In December, the company agreed to provide Internet phone services to cable giant Time Warner Cable, with 11 million customers.
With the protocol, customers make calls with their regular phones, but the calls travel as packets of data over the cable going into their home or business, as opposed to using the traditional telephone line.
''We were looking for somebody with a quality brand name and reputation in the industry, someone who had a strong presence in wireless and who would allow us to develop new services as the market evolves," said John Pascarelli, executive vice president of operations for Mediacom.
Mike Smith, Sprint's director of business development, said the two companies are also negotiating for Mediacom to offer Sprint's wireless telephone service in the near future.
''It's the next logical step in the business relationship," Smith said.
Shares of Sprint rose 15 cents to close at $19.35 on the New York Stock Exchange.