Since 1963 we have been servicing our members under the East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative. Prior to that, our company saw many changes that evolved into a local cooperative serving a large portion of Buchanan County and a small portion of Fayette County.
In all the years we have been in business, there have been many changes to the Communications Industry. Our services now include High Speed Internet (Fiber Optics, DSL and Wireless Internet), HD Video Service as well as Telecommunications.
East Buchanan is now on Facebook.
Please take a moment to join us on Facebook. Many times this may be the quickest way to receive notices of outages.
100 Meg Internet available in communities of Aurora, Stanley, Winthrop, and Quasqueton.
EBTC has installed equipment serving the cities of Aurora, Stanley, Winthrop, and Quasqueton that will provide up to 100 Mbps bandwidth. Call us today at 319-935-3011 for more information.
Please read below the exciting news on our latest fiber projects which when completed will provide incredibly fast speeds of up to 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) speeds!
Rural Winthrop and Quasqueton Fiber Projects
Now that the Aurora-Stanley rural fiber project has been completed and customers can receive up to 1 Gb Internet speeds, EBTC has turned to the next phase of rural development in our service areas.
EBTC had initially planned to deploy fiber in the rural service area of Winthrop in 2020 and had procured a $2.4M loan to complete the project. But a state grant (funded by the federal CARES Act) became available and EBTC was awarded over $2.3M – half of the estimated total project cost – for selected rural areas of Winthrop and a large portion of the Quasqueton rural service area.
Because of stringent deployment deadlines contained within the grant requires the project to be completed by July 1, 2021, the rural Winthrop project will be postponed until after July 1 as we focus on the grant-approved areas. EBTC crews have been visiting many rural homes doing “site surveys” – a review of the local homeowner’s property so construction crews don’t hit any unexpected underground facilities. Construction crews began work on October 5th. Stay tuned for further updates!
The Real Early Years
The earliest means of communication was the telegraph line from Dubuque to Jesup, which ran through Winthrop. It was completed in November of 1863. At that time, the former station agent was replaced by Frank Ward, because he could “run the paper through the telegraph machine and read the dots.”
In November of 1886, telephone wires were being put up on poles and a new office was set-up in Independence.
In 1905, there was hardly a home or town in Eastern Buchanan county without phone service. The local office was located in H.C. Unbehaun store, with Bell Telephone handling long distance out of the J.B. Ryan pharmacy.
In 1904, with telephones being the most efficient method of transmitting gossip, the central telephone exchange had to put this plea in the paper:
“In cases of sickness it is desired that patrons shall not call for the numbers where the sick are…This request and rule are made to relieve the afflicted of hearing the phone ring every minute…How would you like it if you were sick and each one of your friends, two hundred or more, would call up every morning and say: “Hello, my central’s slow! How’s Bill? No better! Too bad! Think he’s not better? Hope he’ll be better tomorrow. If you want any help let me know. Tell Bill I asked about him. What doctor you got? Goodby.”
A new switchboard was installed in 1906: “One can say hello over it without a megaphone. It is a fine affair with 150 drops and is a modern machine in every particular.”
In May 1910, the office was moved to a new building, which is the present location.
The first telephone directory was issued in 1908. Names were listed alphabetically with a number opposite the name (for example, 34A).
At this time, the telephone office was also being used as a weather station. “If you want to know what the weather is going to be, watch the flags hung out of the south window every day at the telephone central office. The three cornered flag, red, means warmer and the same shape in black, cooler…So far the forecasts have been quite reliable and accurate as one could expect on so unreliable a subject as the weather.”
The 30s Through the 80s
In 1937, the Mutual Telephone Exchange (24 county lines) and Winthrop Telephone Exchange decided to incorporate and become the Winthrop Cooperative Telephone Exchange. Memberships were $1.00. Rural fees: $12.00 per year. Town, $2.00 per month, extensions $.50 and business phones: $3.00 per month. The manager’s salary was $1,050.00. In 1963, the manager got a raise so he could pay the help $1.00 per hour.
In the early sixties, negotiations began to change to a dial system. Other towns were contacted, and eventually Quasqueton, Stanley and Aurora joined, and East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative was organized. Buried dial service began in 1967.
Equal access arrived in August 1989, due to the association with Iowa Network Services, of which East Buchanan is an original stock holder.
Digital Broadcast Satellite / DirecTV
Few would have guessed that an entertainment revolution was started in 1994 when our first DBS system was installed at Barb Rasmussen’s home in Quasqueton. We currently have over 1,300 DBS customers throughout Buchanan County and the once exclusive hardware is now sold at Wal-Mart and Radio Shack.
Dial-up Internet Service
As our first customer back in December of 1996, I’m sure John Reidy would agree that the Internet has had a profound effect on his life. EBTC was pleased to assist Roger Wandschneider and Ken Cappel with the installation of a dedicated 56K circuit at EB High School in November of 1997. EBTC was also pleased to assist Mark McCright in upgrading the high school’s facility to a T-1 in March of 2000.
Wireless Phone Service
EBTC was the first Independent Telephone Company to construct a tower and offer digital cellular phone service in association with Iowa Wireless. Although growth has been phenomenal, our records indicate that the first customer was Nicole Dopp on May 28, 1999. Since that time coverage has expanded to Dubuque in the east, Fayette, Clayton and Winnisheik Counties to the north and large numbers of independently owned towers to the south. During 2001, our focus will be on connecting customers to the new cable and using the network’s full potential.
EB Long Distance
In response to the confusing plans offered by other long distance carriers, Bill Raus and Lynn Postel were the first customers to sign up for EBTC’s $.10 and $.14 long distance plans during July of 1999.
In 1997 we noted that a majority of our cable was 25 – 30 years old and that we were running out of capacity for new lines in a number of areas. So we began the tedious process of rebuilding and upgrading our network in the fall of 1998. It is our challenge to connect existing people to the new cable and fully use the network’s potential.
Over the last 10 years, we’ve made many improvements, and added many additional services to benefit you. In fact, we’ve added Annual Customer Appreciation Days, printed a comprehensive Customer Handbook to assist you in choosing services, extended our office hours, and added automatic bill payment service. We also take Visa and Mastercard payments. In addition, we’ve added two new telephone features to help you manage your busy life. Telemarketer Call Screening helps you avoid annoying calls from telemarketers, and our Toll Limitation Services, which we offer free to all customers, allow you to budget your long distance calls each month easily.
A Building Committee was appointed on March 2,2000 to oversee the construction of a 3,900 sq. ft office addition. Members of the Building Committee included Harold Schneider, Greg Fawcett, Ernie Kress and Lee Bossom. Cory Kress was also hired to draft the floor plan and function as construction liaison.
Construction was started in July of 2000 and completed in December of 2000. The idea was to create a place where our customers could come to experience technology, to become more educated about the services available to you, and to learn, first hand, which services can best benefit you in your every day life. We hope you enjoy and benefit from our technology center, and to learning how your history has helped to shape how your communicate today.
2000 – Present
I do not think that the internet itself changed as much as the profusion of applications. And the primary application that impacted telephony was digital entertainment and streaming video. Both applications require large amounts of bandwidth which put us between a rock and a hard spot.
Video applications need the bandwidth provided by fiber optic cable – but regulatory changes during this same period had dried up traditional funding sources. You might say we were experiencing a telecom drought.
These regulatory changes also resulted in significant uncertainty. Companies were hesitant to invest large sums of money in long term assets when regulations were changing frequently.
So, we had a couple of hard years adjusting to the demand for unlimited bandwidth and significant regulatory uncertainty.
Fortunately, the regulatory environment changed in 2016 when the FCC introduced ACAM (Alternate Connect America Model). This is a 10-year program which provided funding for fiber projects in approximately half of our rural areas (mostly north of old Hwy. 20).
EBTC also became involved with digital entertainment by purchasing digital video equipment in partnership with Shellsburg and Palo Telephone companies. Cable TV service had never been very profitable – often operating at a loss. And digital entertainment was no different – mostly because regulators began to allow local off-air stations to charge a monthly access fee. In 2017 we decommissioned our Cale TV network when Independence Telecom no longer provided analog signal to us. And dissolved our partnership with Shellsburg and Palo in 2018 when the digital video equipment we had jointly purchased needed to be replaced.
We currently offer digital video entertainment in association with Skitter TV. A profit-sharing arrangement where Skitter provides all the electronics and programming. EBTC provides customer billing and maintenance. With the popularity of over the top video (Netflix, Sling TV, DirecTV, etc.) we did not want to be heavily invested in expensive equipment.
Our experience with cellular service and our partner, iWireless, was very interesting. We started off with a bang and were pretty successful. We even formed Community Digital Wireless with four other local telephone companies to provide service in Fayette County. But the cellular industry became increasingly competitive and dominated by the very large national carriers. Needless to say, our profit margins decreased significantly. In 2018 we recorded a gain on the sale of some cellular assets to iWireless while keeping the towers.
As of 2018 we find ourselves profitably leasing tower space and providing transport to a couple national carriers. In retrospect this is a very good fit for EBTC in terms of resources and return on investment.
The History of Telephone in Stanley
The first switchboard went into service in 1906 and was located at the former M.M. Elder Hardware and Implement Shop, east of the gasoline engine factory on the south side of Main Street. 11 year-old Clyde Richards was the first telephone operator.
The switchboard moved seven times before finally being set-up in the Stanley Hotel in 1919.
The switchboard and the nine telephones were owned by the Iowa Telephone Company, who was planning to discontinue service in Stanley in 1919. A few interested persons secured the names of 74 families, so that they could create a local exchange. A meeting was held, and a committee appointed to buy the old switchboard and the nine telephones. Thus, the Stanley Mutual Telephone Exchange was born. They rented five rooms (to house the enormous equipment) in the E.M. Stimson Stanley Hotel as a temporary home.
The first officers and directors were:
John Maller—Vice President
J. Guy Swartzell—Manager
Harold Brownell, George Jellings and Roy Zabriskic were Directors
In 1920, the toll line between Stanley and Aurora was built, and a new switchboard was purchased, which was used until 1960. In 1927, they bought the E.M. Stimson Stanley Hotel for $766, and incorporated. In August of 1967, they became a part of the East Buchanan Telephone Company and went to the dial system.
2020 Board of Directors
- Terry Peterson, President (Winthrop)
- Joe Bahe, Vice President (Aurora)
- Nancy Mosher (Aurora – Stanley)
- Greg Fawcett, Secretary (Winthrop)
- Alan Heitz, Treasurer (Aurora-Stanley)
- Eldon Baragary (Quasqueton)
- Rose Hansen (Winthrop)
- Randy Maas (Quaqueton )
- Bill Crow (Quasqueton)
- Mike Becker, General Manager
- Roger Olsen, Plant Manager
- Christy Wolfe, Office Manager
- Dave Flexsenhar, Outside Plant Technician
- Annette Kress, Communications Consultant
- Stanley Steele, Outside Plant Technician
- Matthew Svoboda, Outside Plant Technician
- Matthew Leisinger, Combination Technician
As a cooperative, every cent you pay to East Buchanan during the year, be it for telephone, long distance, Internet, Skitter TV, goes in into a formula which comes back to you in the form of dividends.
Take this into consideration: If you purchased $100 worth of services throughout the year, with allocation calculations you may have up to 50% or more allocated to your account. This means that if and when the Cooperative Board of Directors decide to distribute the allocations, you will get a patronage check based on the formula. Can you imagine getting a 50% or more discount on the purchase of a new car or tractor? How many other companies can offer you that kind of savings nearly every year?
With your cooperative, the money you pay into the cooperative is retained for operating expenses while also allowing your cooperative to use this revenue for expensive upgrades to keep your services on the forefront of technology. When the Board believes patronage distributions are financially feasible, patronage checks – based on your past payments to EBTC – are then sent to cooperative members.
In the past many years, East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative paid back millions of dollars to its customer members in the form of patronage dividends. We are now entering a new phase whereby instead of paying dividends, disbursements allocated to your account will be postponed and your cooperative dollars will be combined with a $2.4 million loan to deploy fiber optic services to many areas where upgrades are urgently needed. Our Board members have answered the call because of the COVID pandemic to allow our members the faster speeds needed to work from home, study online, and provide tele-health services.
Just remember that every dollar you pay to EBTC is used to upgrade and continue existing services, and any cooperative profits are distributed back to members whenever possible. This means that for every dollar you spent with East Buchanan, you’ll get a large portion of it back! For example if the annual dividend allocation was 50%, it means you are really paying half price for your Internet or phone service or Skitter TV service after dividend distributions are paid.
So why buy full-priced inferior wireless Internet, or expensive satellite TV when you can essentially receive major discounts on ALL of your services provided by East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative? The answer is clear – EBTC is your best value!