Company History

1949 - Western Iowa Telephone Association began when a group of residents in the Lawton community wanted an improvement in their telephone service. Articles of Incorporation were approved on June 9, 1949. The original name of the association was Lawton Cooperative Telephone Association.

1951 - The telephone company acquired the Climbing Hill and Holly Springs Telephone systems.

1952 - The Bronson, Moville, and Smithland Telephone systems were acquired.

1954 - The cooperative's name was changed to Western Iowa Telephone Association.

1959 - The Oto exchange became part of Western Iowa Telephone.

1963 - Direct distance dialing service was put into operation, which allowed members to dial long distance station-to-station calls from their own telephone.

1966 - All exchanges, except Oto, changed to all single-party service.

1968 - The Turin and Castana Telephone companies became part of the cooperative.

1969 - The Oto exchange was changed to single-party service.

1975 - Touch-tone dialing service became available.

1976 - A mobile telephone and personal paging system was installed, creating a new service offering for members.

1981 - New digital switching equipment was placed into service in Moville. Members were now able to have a number of calling features such as call waiting and call forwarding.

1986 - Western Iowa Telephone partnered with CommNet Cellular (now Verizon Wireless) to provide cellular service in northwest Iowa.

1987 - The cooperative joined with 128 other independent companies in Iowa to form Iowa Network Services.

1989 - Independent telephone companies in Iowa were able to offer customers a choice of long distance carriers through Equal Access.

1994 - Dial-up Internet became available through Western Iowa Telephone and Iowa Network Services.

1995 - Western Iowa Telephone began providing dial-up Internet to the communities of Anthon and Onawa over our EAS trunks.

1996 - The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was signed allowing for competition among existing companies.

1997 - Western Iowa Telephone extended its toll-free area of service to include all of its exchanges.

1999 - Western Iowa Telephone celebrated 50 years of service. All our switches were upgraded to bring Caller ID with name to our customers, as well as to prepare us for the Year 2000 (Y2K)issue. Both Climbing Hill and Bronson exchanges had new cable facilities buried by contractors. In September WITA began offering its own long distance plans under its new subsidiary--Western Iowa Long Distance(WILD). A Federal Universal Service fee was estalished by the FCC to help provide affordable phone sevice in rural areas and to aid schools, libraries and rural health care facilities.

2000 - WILD (Western Iowa Long Distance) began offering calling cards and 800 numbers. WITA sold its shares of Illuminet Stock at a profit of over $2 million and allocated these monies back to its members in a special allocation. WITA surpassed 4,000 access lines. Plant facility rebuilds in Climbing Hill and Bronson were finished and work began on the Castana and Moville rural areas. Depletion of telephone numbers is of great concern to the FCC and the telecommunications industry.

2001 - Work continued on the plant rebuilds in Moville and Smithland. Work will start in Lawton. WITA currently bills 40 interexchange carriers access charges through the CABs billing system, which provides the biggest share of income to the cooperative.

2002 - Customers can now pay their bills online through eBill found on the Western Iowa web site. Global Crossing and MCI/WorldCom declared bankruptcy which greatly affected all companies who were owed money by these companies. Access charges amount to 75% of our annual revenues. Wireless service providers are fast becoming our greatest competition. The plant rebuild has been completed in all exchanges. Fiber rings were built in rural areas to give more capacity when demand increases. The company has paid off all its loans and is now debt-free. DSL High Speed Internet is available to Moville, Bronson, Climbing Hill, parts of Lawton and Hornick.

2003 - For the first time WITA paid out over $1 million in capital credits to 2,914 patrons. Since 1974 the Co-op has paid out $8,881,940 in capital credits. Two new calling plans were introduced by Western Iowa Long Distance. These are packaged pre-paid plans at 5¢ per minute for in-Iowa calling and 7¢ per minute for nation-wide calling. 96% of our customers have access to DSL High Speed Internet. Local Number Portability is being required by the FCC. Companies must be ready to port numbers if a bona fide request comes in, which requires a very costly upgrade to the switches.

2004 - On Febuary 16, Russ Walker, current Board President, replaced Doug Furlich, General Manager, as Interim General Manager.

2004 - Western Iowa Telephone purchased the cable television business owned by Telepartners. Western Iowa began serving television cable to Lawton, Bronson, Oto, Rodney, Hornick and Smithland on July 20. Plans to serve Moville are in the works. Cutover to the new fiber optic cable system was completed in Smithland in July, which should reduce the number of phone trouble reports.

2004 - On August 2, Heath Mallory began his duties as the new General Manager.

2004 - In November, WITA buried telephone and television cable in the new West Creek Development next to Pronto in Lawton to accomodate growth for approximately 50 new residences.

2005 - A new outside plant garage was built to house company trucks and equipment. New DSL gear was deployed in Climbing Hill and Bronson. Upgraded power and backup power equipment (rectifiers, power boards, & batteries) in Bronson, Climbing Hill, Hornick, and Oto. In February customers in the City of Moville began subscribing to WITA cable tv service.

2006 - Upgraded power and backup power equipment in Smithland, Lawton, and Oto (batteries only, in Oto). This puts state-of-the-art power gear in all the CO's (central offices). Deployed new DSL gear in Moville, Smithland, and Climbing Hill. This completes the deployment of latest generation DSL gear in all exchanges and provides access to DSL to virtually 100% of our subscribers.

2007 - On April 20, ground was broken for the construction of our new office building. The move into the new office building was completed in October. Former manager, Don Grigg, was inducted into the Cooperative's Hall of Fame at their Annual Meeting in Ames on November 20, 2007.

2008 - The FCC prohibited telecommunications companies from releasing Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) to anyone who requests certain account information without a pre-assigned password. In March the new building was officially completed. An Open House celebrating the building's completion was held on June 3. In September Open Houses were held in Bronson, Lawton, Moville, Smithland, Oto and Hornick to introduce digital cable tv as a new service offering.

2009 - Began offering a new computer wireless networking service. Introduced WISEGUYS (Western Iowa Service Experts) for customers needing new computer or tv installations, computer security backups and passwords, and computer support programs. Began offering an unlimited long distance plan to all our customers for $24.99/ month. Western Iowa Telephone hosted a 60th birthday party in the company garage, serving hamburger, hot dogs and birthday cake.

2010 - Rolled out a new VoiceMail and Phone Management system called CommPortal, which allows interfacing of phone with computer. A new computer software upgrade was made through Innovative Systems for billing and data management, service orders, trouble reporting, outside plant mapping, and capital credits. Telephone bills were given a new look, as was the company newsletter, The PartyLine. The website was upgraded with a new look, as well.

By Laws-A copy of the By Laws of Western Iowa Telephone Association can be obtained by members by contacting the business office at 944-5711.