SOURCE: Associated Network Partners, Inc.

July 21, 2005 11:16 ET

NRTC and ANPI Join Forces to Better Serve Cooperative and Independent Telephone Companies

HERNDON, VA and SPRINGFIELD, IL -- (MARKET WIRE) -- July 21, 2005 -- The National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) and Associated Network Partners Inc., (ANPI) jointly announce the formation of a strategic alliance that will significantly benefit both organizations and the member companies they serve.

"NRTC and ANPI have enjoyed a strong working relationship for the past six years," said Bob Phillips, president and chief executive officer of NRTC. "NRTC's investment in ANPI is a testament to that relationship and illustrates our commitment to bringing the most cost-effective and competitive solutions to the membership of both organizations."

As a result of this arrangement, each organization's solutions are now available to both memberships. This sharing of resources ensures that both NRTC and ANPI are better able to meet the growing needs of their respective memberships. By working together to provide the most comprehensive solutions, NRTC and ANPI will be in a position to increase sales volumes, reduce costs and deliver more competitive offers.

"It is apparent that ANPI and NRTC member companies are moving into a converged environment. ANPI's voice experience, coupled with NRTC's video competencies and ISP applications, such as WildBlue satellite Internet access, places both organizations in a position to effectively and comprehensively meet the needs of our members," said David Lewis, president and chief executive officer of ANPI. "Combining scale also enhances NRTC's and ANPI's ability to procure and deliver services more economically. With NRTC's electric and telco member base combined with the broad telco base of ANPI, both organizations look forward to the prospect of brokering business opportunities between telephone and electric companies creating cooperation and opportunity for both."

Going forward, the organizations will work closely on product development and assign sales expertise to ensure effective delivery of products and services to support their rural independent telephone and cooperative members. For example, NRTC will offer ANPI's toll and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) products to its current and prospective members, and ANPI will distribute NRTC's TrueBand Internet service provider (ISP) products to its membership.

Lewis continued, "We're delighted about our relationship with NRTC. In this time of great change and volatility, forming long-term, strategic relationships are important if we are to successfully respond to our changing marketplace and continue to effectively provide innovative solutions to rural America. We look forward to working closely with NRTC when developing and marketing solutions that help our respective member companies realize the opportunities that are present when technologies converge."

As NRTC's exclusively endorsed voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) solution provider, ANPI will design, offer and sell wholesale VoIP solutions specifically targeted to the needs of NRTC's electric and telephone members. All participating NRTC members will benefit from VoIP solutions that offer aggregate pricing, along with specialized support and training. This will enable a diversification of revenue streams, and enrichment of margins associated with traditional telecommunications-based services.

The NRTC/ANPI partnership provides members of both organizations more rapid access to emerging technologies and maximizes service offerings to their customer bases. Phillips added, "Both NRTC and ANPI recognize the strength and added value our members gain when working together. For example we know next-generation technologies like VoIP are an important expansion/growth strategy for many NRTC member companies. Being able to offer the innovative approach of the ANPI VoIP solution to NRTC members is a tremendous benefit." Likewise, ANPI members will benefit from enriched ISP offerings brought to the table by NRTC.

The strategic partnership is backed by a strong equity investment in ANPI by NRTC in which it will obtain approximately a 20 percent interest in ANPI. To further solidify their alliance, NRTC will also have representation on ANPI's board of directors.

About NRTC

NRTC leads and supports more than 1,200 rural electric and telephone utility member organizations by delivering telecommunications solutions to strengthen member businesses, promote economic development and improve the quality of life in rural America. The rural utilities that make up NRTC offer services to more than 30 million rural households in the United States. For more information, visit www.nrtc.coop.

About ANPI

Associated Network Partners Inc. is a consortium serving 325+ independent telephone companies spanning 39 states within the U.S. As a leading consortium providing leading wholesale communications services to the independent telco community, ANPI serves nearly two million access lines, and carries over 1 billion LD minutes of user per year. ANPI also provides independent telco's with other valuable services such as a complete solution for VoIP telephony, state-of-the-industry reporting tools, 1+ toll, national directory assistance, calling cards, debit cards and professional marketing services. For more information, interested parties can visit www.anpi.org.

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