announced the launch of , a service that allows customers to control and monitor devices in their home from anywhere in the world, provided they have Internet access. The service provides live or recorded video and still images, as well as sensor notifications for things such as motion, door and window activity, water leakage and temperature change, and control of appliances. A starter package of equipment used with the service features an IP camera, door/window sensor, wireless gateway and software/instructions and is available for a one-time cost of $199.99. The service is provided for $9.99 a month or a one-time annual payment of $105.99. SureWest plans to market the service both inside and outside of its territory, even suggesting anyone in the nation can subscribe to it.

This is a great example of a telco leveraging the power and utility of Internet protocol (IP) to try to expand their options (and revenue) beyond their core telephony products and create competitive advantage. They are certainly not the first to do so, but you have to admire SureWest’s approach of looking at this opportunity on a grander scale than just with their local customer base. That’s what many a PowerPoint presentation at many an industry conference has suggested that IP can do for a “local telephone” company. I’ll be the first to admit that we can’t draw any conclusions about the potential success of this venture. It may very well flop. But I do admire SureWest for rolling the dice on it, and getting valuable experience with what the future of the business will indeed look like. That is, utilizing IP to develop and implement a series of revenue generating applications and services, well beyond just telephony, that positions a service provider to effectively compete against all comers.

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