St. PETERSBURG,Progress Telecom, the communications arm of Raleigh based Progress Energy, is merging with EPIK Communications.

The two firms disclosed plans to combine operations on Wednesday.

The new venture will be known as Progress Telecom and will be the largest wholesale provider of broadband across the Southeast, the companies said in a statement.

Ron Murphy, the chief executive officer of Progress Telecom, will lead the combined company.

Progress Energy will own 55 percent of the joint venture. Odyssey Telecorp, the parent of EPIK, will own the other 45 percent. Odyssey is based in Palo Alto, CA.

Progress Telecom: www.progresstelecom.com