This is the second installment from Matt Friesen on the history of Mainstay Communications.
MAINSTAY COMMUNICATIONS 50th CELEBRATION
OPEN HOUSE AUGUST 2nd
9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In the last article highlighting the progress of Henderson Cooperative Telephone Company, we were just entering the digital age. In the digital age, technology started to speed up first with phone service and calling features then with internet service.
In December 1985, the board approved a motion to apply for a REA loan to purchase a digital switch for the Henderson Coop exchange. That same year, Central Nebraska Cellular system was created.
In 1986, the Coop buried fiber optic cable to meet LT&T to be used as our new toll route.
In January 1988, the Central Office was converted to 3phase and a standby generator was purchased. That same year, a Northern Telcome Digital Switch DMS-10 was approved and installed in the central office. The digital switch changed how calls were processed and added features to subscriber calling that were not available before.
In 1989, Henderson Coop Telephone invested in Nebraska Cellular Corporation providing cell service along the I-80 corridor.
In 1990 and 1991, the air core outside copper plant that was buried in 1970 was replaced with gel filled copper buried outside plant.
In January 1992, Henderson Coop Telephone formed their subsidiary Tri-Rural TV Inc. and invested in NRTC and DirecTV to purchase three counties Seward, York, and Hamilton to provide Direct Broadcast Satellite service (DBS). It was one of the first rural TV projects in the nation to provide programming by satellite. The technology for direct broadcast satellite changed the way people received TV programing. This was a giant leap of technology going from cable TV to satellite TV. To get DirecTV the broadcast signal from Boulder, Colorado, was beamed up to a satellite 23 thousand miles above the earth and down to an 18 inch dish mounted or a rural home. The rural community went from having an antenna that could only get five channels if they were lucky to getting up to 110 channels by switching to Direct Broadcast Satellite service. Not only could the rural community receive satellite TV, they could buy and watch pay per view movies with a touch of a button. That same year, the Coop sold its shares in Nebraska Cellular Corporation to Grassland Corporation which eventually became Alltel Cellular.
In September 1996, Henderson Coop Telephone provided local access to the internet. We started out with dial up, Netscape browser and Windows 3.1 on 6 floppy disks. We knew internet was a good thing for our subscribers but we had no idea how it would grow and become the standard for everything through the World Wide Web (www). As a rural Internet Service Provider (ISP), our community has over 80% of our customers subscribed to our internet services.
On April 30, 1997, the Coop invested in NT&T a reseller of toll to provide our subscribers a lower rate for long distance calling.
In 2000, Henderson Cooperative Telephone Co. registered the trademark Mainstay Communications to do business as a Telecommunications Company providing services in and outside of our exchange.
From 1985 to 2000 is what I refer to as the digital age of Henderson Cooperative Telephone Company d/b/a Mainstay Communications. Look for our next article that takes the Telephone Company from the digital age to the Internet Protocol (IP) age.
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