In the early 1930’s, John Nilsen went to work as a lineman for the Nome Telephone Company, a small stockholder-owned company serving Nome and many of the surrounding farms. He had also been servicing the exchanges at Dazey and Hannaford for a few years, when on April 21, 1943, he purchased them from Dakota Automatic Telephone Co.
A young man by the name of Harry Snyder had begun working for Dakota Automatic Telephone Co. on May 1, 1942. John and Harry met in the fall of that year and became good friends. Harry became a partner in ICTC when he and John pooled resources and on December 21, 1945, purchased the Fingal, Wheatland, Alice and Buffalo exchanges from Dakota Automatic Telephone Co.
On July 10, 1947, Inter-Community Telephone Company, then operating six exchanges, became a corporation. The Nome Telephone Co. merged with ICTC on August 1, 1956 and all stockholders in the Nome Telephone Co. were able to exchange their stock for stock in ICTC.
In 1957 ICTC applied for and received approval of its first REA loan. The $949,000 loan was used to upgrade ICTC’s entire system to modern dial service. On March 1, 1959, the Nome exchange became the first to be cut over to modern dial service. The exchange at Fingal was discontinued at that time and the subscribers were then served by the upgraded Nome exchange. The Dazey exchange was cut over on May 15, 1959 and the Hannaford exchange on August 1, 1959. The Buffalo exchange was cut over on September 21, 1960, at which time, the exchange at Wheatland was discontinued and the subscribers were incorporated into the Buffalo exchange. The Alice exchange was cut over on October 1, 1960.
Sometime in 1964, John Nilsen learned from a friend on the West Coast that a military switching center was to be located near Wheatland. Nilsen then contacted the Defense Department about the possibility of ICTC servicing the switching site, as it would be located within the company’s franchised area. At the same time, Northwestern Bell was making plans to service the site and obtained an option to purchase ten acres of land just outside Wheatland. Northwestern Bell would be providing toll service for the switch no matter who serviced the site.
The decision as to who would service the site was long and painful. The North Dakota Public Service Commission determined that either company could service the site since it would be in ICTC’s service area and Northwestern Bell would be providing the toll service. The final decision would have to be made by the contractor, the United States Government. During the next two years, Nilsen made several trips to Washington, D.C. to appear before Congressional committees and finally, to testify at a Justice Department hearing. In pleading his case, Nilsen had to convince his listeners that ICTC, although small, was just as capable of providing service to the site as a larger company.
ICTC was awarded the contract, and on April 4, 1971, the CONUS AUTOVON (Continental United States Automatic Voice Network) Switching Center was put into service as a part of the U.S. Department of Defense worldwide defense communications network. The Wheatland Autovon remained operational until February 28, 1996, just one month short of 25 years of service.
ICTC received approval of its second REA loan on October 1, 1974. The $2,800,000 loan was used to upgrade ICTC’s system to buried plant and one-party service. The Buffalo-Wheatland exchange was cut over in November 1975 and the four remaining exchanges were cut over by October 1976.
In 1986 and 1987, ICTC upgraded its network to digital switches connected by fiber optic cable.
On April 2, 1991, ICTC was purchased by the Lynch Corporation of Rye, New York.
On June 1, 1996, ICTC purchased the Hope, Page, Sanborn and Tower City exchanges from US West Communications. Later that year these four exchanges were tied into ICTC’s existing network.
In April 1997, internet service was offered to customers of ICTC. In May of 2010 Inter-Community Telephone was acquired by ICTC Group formerly known as Sunshine PCS. The company currently offers internet service as a local call to all exchanges and the Valley City exchange. At the end of 1999, there were nearly 700 customers on-line. Today ICTC also offers Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service, providing high-speed internet connections.
In 2013 ICTC secured funding through a Stimulus grant that brought significant improvements in back end infrastructure including a new MetaSwitch telephone switch, core routing, and core transport. Additionally ICTC became multi-homed for internet providing additional redundancy and increased up time. 3 communities – Hope, Sanborn, Tower City were converted to fiber optic services.
2016 brings the completion of converting all customers to use the new Metaswitch and phasing out the previous voice equipment installed in the 80’s. Additionally, many more remote fiber fed cabinets bringing faster speeds to many rural locations.
Inter-Community Telephone Company currently employs 14 people and maintains over 1,700 access lines.