OTELCO, a division of Otelco Inc., is actually a family of local rural phone companies serving five states with a rich past steeped in history that includes a strong local spirit, resourcefulness, determination, and ingenuity.
In the late 1800s, when the telecommunication industry was relatively new, due the remoteness of many rural communities, telephone service from the original Bell Telephone Company was not available. In the early 1890s, the independent telephone industry began to take shape. As farming grew in the rural regions, so did manufacturing and the associated service organizations. According to the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA), after the publication of a manual that explained to farmers how they could develop their own telephone systems on a mutual or cooperative basis, many farmer mutual systems emerged throughout rural America.
Farmers and local businessmen leveraged their own funds to build local rural phone systems. At one point around 1927 there were an estimated 6,000 privately held rural phone companies is existence. Today based on National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA) membership, there are more than 1,300 local carriers who, according to NTCA, serve 5% of subscribers nationwide, but whose geographic coverage area accounts for 40% of the country.
These rural phone companies are as important today as they were at the time of their birth. Without them, there would be no connectivity across 40% of the United States.
In 1998 Otelco Inc. was formed and began acquiring these rural phone companies also known as Rural Local Exchange Carriers, or RLECs Since its inception, Otelco acquired multiple RLEC companies in various locations including Alabama, Missouri and Maine.
Having purchased Mid Maine Communications in 2006, Otelco Inc. founded OTELCO in 2008 when it acquired and merged Pine Tree Networks into the family.
OTELCO now serves rural communities in Massachusetts, Vermont, West Virginia, and Maine; and offers business services in parts of Maine and New Hampshire. OTELCO also provides carrier grade and white label wholesale solutions to customers nationwide. Today, OTELCO offers innovative technology and communication solutions for businesses and residences; high-speed internet access, cloud services, and through its most recent acquisition, Reliable Networks, a full range of managed services for business owners who want to concentrate on running their business and reduce their IT headaches.
As OTELCO continues to evolve and grow to keep pace with ever-changing technology and communication needs, it prides itself on employing today, the same local spirit, resourcefulness, determination, and ingenuity that provided its foundation more than a century ago.