About us - EBTC office

About Us

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.

Latest News

East Buchanan launches new Web Site.

The east Buchanan web site now has a new look! Please take a moment to look at our new updated web site and join us on Facebook.

100 Meg Internet available in communities of Aurora, Stanley and Winthrop.

EBTC has installed new equipment serving the cities of Aurora, Stanley and Winthrop that will provide up to 100 Meg bandwidth. Call us today at 319-935-3011 for more information.

100 Meg Internet coming to the city of Quasqueton.

The EBTC Board has approved the purchase of new equipment for the City of Quasqueton that will deliver up to 100 Meg bandwidth. The equipment is scheduled for delivery in December, 2018. Stay tuned for updates.

Rural Stanley Fiber Project

Contractors are scheduled to begin installing fiber optic cable to in the rural Stanley area on Sept. 26, 2018. EBTC crews have already installed new fiber optic drops to individual homes in this area so we anticipate a smooth cutover. Again, Stay tuned for more updates.

Rural Aurora Fiber Project

EBTC is in the process of reviewing designs for a fiber optic network servicing rural Aurora. Assuming no significant changes are required, the plan is to request bids over the winter months and be ready to go in the spring of 2019. Initial construction estimates for this project are over $1,500,000.

Company History

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.

The 90s

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.

Telephone Updates
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:

D.M. Schwartz—President
John Maller—Vice President
R.R. Shennan—Secretary/Treasurer
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.

2018 Board of Directors
  • Larry Chesmore, President (Quasqueton)
  • Terry Peterson, Vice President (Winthrop)
  • Greg Fawcett, Secretary (Winthrop)
  • Alan Heitz, Treasurer (Aurora-Stanley)
  • Joe Bahe (Aurora-Stanley)
  • Eldon Baragary (Quasqueton)
  • Rose Hansen (Winthrop)
  • Dan Sperfslage (Aurora-Stanley)
  • Randy Maas (Quaqueton )
Employees
  • Butch Rorabaugh, 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
Dividends

Every cent you pay to East Buchanan during the year, be it for telephone, long distance, Internet, wireless, cable, Talknet or VisionNet, eventually comes back to you in the form of dividends.

Take this into consideration: with the dividends you will receive for 1998, it’s like you got an automatic discount of 61% off everything you purchased through East Buchanan that year. How many other companies can offer you that kind of savings?

In the ten years from 1990 through 1999, East Buchanan paid back over 5.25 million dollars to its customers in patronage dividends. With the average percentage per customer, being 51%.

This means that for every dollar you spent with East Buchanan in the 1990s, you’ll get half of it back! For example, it means you are really paying only 5¢ per minute for long distance after dividends, and less than $20 per month for 750 minutes of wireless service, including long distance, after dividends.

So why buy full-priced wireless or long distance service, when you can essentially receive half off our everyday low prices with East Buchanan?

East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative | 319-935-3011 or 866-327-2748 | P.O. Box 100, 214 Third Street North, Winthrop, IA 50682-0100 | christy.wolfe@eastbuchanan.com

East Buchanan Telephone Cooperative
319-935-3011 or 866-327-2748
P.O. Box 100, 214 Third Street North, Winthrop, IA 50682-0100
christy.wolfe@eastbuchanan.com