Great Plains Communications

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Original short description: "American communications company"

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Advertising? Template:Rewrite Great Plains Communications is Nebraska's largest independent telecommunications company.[1] It is headquartered in Blair, NE and serves 89 rural communities [2] across the State of Nebraska. It provides High-Speed Internet, Cable Television and Local and Long Distance phone services. The company, founded in 1910,[3] recently celebrated its centennial anniversary. The tome “Great Plains Communications Centennial 1910-2010: Today’s Legacy, Tomorrow’s Promise” was written to commemorate the event. It has been owned by one family, the Hunt Family, for four generations beginning with founder Emory Clyde Hunt.

History

Evolution of the Name

Great Plains Communications went through several name changes due mostly to significant expansion throughout the 1900s. The company was originally called the Camp Dewey Telephone Company and was acquired by Great Plains Communications’ founder, E.C. Hunt, in 1910.[4] In 1916, the name was changed to Northern Telephone.[5] After acquiring five telecommunication companies throughout Nebraska, the company was renamed UniTel of Nebraska in 1974. The name was officially changed to Great Plains Communications in 1984 following the merger of the five companies, which were created through consolidation of telephone companies in several smaller rural towns, operating under the UniTel umbrella.[6]

Expansion

Over the years, Hunt Telephone Properties acquired several smaller telephone companies.

  • 1916 – The Camp Dewey Telephone System changes its name to Northern Telephone Company.
  • 1926 – The company acquires Blair Telephone Company. The company's headquarters is relocated to Blair, NE.
  • 1938 – The company acquires Union Telephone Company.
  • 1940 – The company acquires Central Nebraska Telephone Company.
  • 1966 – The company acquires the Skeedee Independent Telephone Company and changes the name to the Nebraska Telephone Company.
  • 1974 – The five companies are united under the name Unitel of Nebraska.
  • 1984 – The companies are officially merged and the company is renamed Great Plains Communications.[7]
  • 1984 – Continental Telephone Company of Nebraska is acquired doubling the size of the company.[8]

The Great Depression

During the Great Depression, E.C. Hunt allowed customers to pay using a barter system including crops and livestock. The company had a strict no over-charging policy.[9] If bartered items were sold for more than the actual amount of the customer's bill, the amount was returned to the customer.

Services

Cable Services

In 1979, Great Plains Communications founded Scope Cable Television and began obtaining franchise rights to construct cable television systems in several Nebraska communities. The company's original channel line-up included 10 channels, thought to be expansive at the time. Digital cable was introduced to customers in 1999. As of 2011, the company provides cable services to 40 rural communities in Nebraska. Thirty-six towns receive hi-definition digital services including digital video recording capabilities.

Internet Services

Great Plains Communications began offering Internet services with a 56K dial-up speed. The company now provides 1 to 10 Meg residential download speeds depending on location. Business services include access to 2500 miles of fiber providing Ethernet speeds up to 1 GB. The company has begun providing fiber-to-the-home across the state.

Subsidiaries

Great Plains One Call Service and Great Plains Locating Service

In 1993, Great Plains Communications added two new subsidiaries, Great Plains One Call Service and Great Plains Locating Service.[10] The two companies were formed in response to Nebraska Legislation that required all utility companies to mark their underground facilities with paint and flags if excavation was occurring. One Call alerted utility companies to upcoming excavation so that they would be able to comply with the new paint-and-flag rule. The Locating Service offered to perform this task for a fee. Great Plains Locating service grew to be the fifth largest firm of its kind in the U.S. serving a seven-state region. Both companies were sold in 2005.

Great Plains Underground Construction

Great Plains Underground Construction was founded in 2001 to complement the company's existing telecommunications services. It manages commercial construction projects including burying and laying fiber optic cable and high voltage underground electrical systems.

Allcom Global Services

In order to accommodate large scale telecommunications products, the company expanded beyond Nebraska into global territories with the acquisition of AllCom Global Services in 2006.[11] Allcom designs, engineers and constructs the infrastructure necessary to support voice and data communications. The company works extensively with U.S. governmental organizations including all branches of the military, NASA, and the Defense Department as well as state and local projects. It is headquartered at Lake St. Louis, Missouri.

Philanthropy

Grants and Scholarships

Since 1986, the company has provided grants and scholarships to rural schools and students in the communities the company serves. The program is part of Great Plains Communications “Commitment to the Schools” initiative. Currently, the company gives $25,000 in grants [12] and $20,000 in scholarships to students each year. Scholarship recipients are encouraged to return to rural Nebraska after college in an effort to fight against rural “brain drain.”

The Hunt Foundation

In 2003, the Robert and Jeanette Hunt Foundation was created to fund long-term projects and assist in community development in Great Plains Communications’ communities. The foundation has provided $250,000 in matching donations to many communities around the State of Nebraska.[13]

References

  1. Great Plains Celebrates 100 Years. Blair Enterprise. April 2, 2010.
  2. "Great Plains Communications turns 100". The Chadron Record. March 16, 2010
  3. American Executive July 1, 2010
  4. West Point News September 1, 2010.
  5. Nebraska State Railway Commission Records Nebraska State Historical Society
  6. Nebraska Department of State, Articles of Merger – Filed December 30, 1983
  7. Nebraska Department of State, Articles of Merger – Filed December 30, 1983
  8. “Telephone company acquisition possible largest in Nebraska." Lincoln Journal Star August 9, 1984
  9. Omaha World Herald. October 3, 2006
  10. Garrigan, Casey (2010). Great Plains Communications Centennial 1910-2010: Today's Legacy. Omaha Books. 
  11. American Executive. July 1, 2010
  12. "Verdigre School Receives $5,000 grant from Great Plains Communications'. The Verdigre Eagle. May 19, 2011
  13. Garrigan, Casey (2010). Great Plains Communications Centennial 1910-2010: Today's Legacy. Omaha Books. 

External links

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