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Our History Begins with You Print

United Telephone Association, Inc. was organized in 1951 by a number of farmers in the Ford County area who
wanted telephone service in the rural area surrounding Dodge City when Southwestern Bell indicated no interest in providing service to this area. These early organizers were soon joined by other interested persons in Gray County.

1956 - First Business Office.

The first business office was located at 610 2nd Avenue in downtown Dodge City.

In April 1952, The Kansas Corporation Commission granted United permission to purchase the exchanges of Kingsdown, Spearville, and Hanston. The Spearville purchase included a seven-room house and a repair truck.

The first Rural Electrification Administration (REA) allocation to the group was in the amount of $763,000. This allocation would be contingent upon the Association raising $67,000 in equity. This was accomplished by potential subscribers paying a $5 sign-up fee and a $45 equity assessment. The initial loan to the company was in the amount of $394,000 in May of 1952, at a 2% interest rate for 35 years. United also received authorization to borrow additional funds from REA if necessary.

The original plan of the Association was to serve the rural area surrounding Dodge City; the towns of Ensign, Spearville and Kingsdown; and the rural areas surrounding each town. However, after a disagreement with Southwestern Bell, United dropped the idea of serving the rural Dodge City area.

1954 - Dial equipment located in the Spearville central office.

In November 1953, United suffered its first ice storm in the Spearville area. A new pole line withstood the ice and little damage occurred. The storm convinced customers of the reliability of this new company.

United purchased the telephone exchanges located in Cimarron, Montezuma, Copeland and Ingalls in February, 1954. These magneto telephone systems were all purchased from Western Light and Telephone Company and were quickly cut over to dial-tone service. Company records report the "new dial is as modern as Sputnik. It gives the beep, beep, beep when busy and cuts off if you're too chatty. But it's very efficient."

By 1955, all United exchanges were equipped with local conversation timing on party lines, limiting calls to six minutes each. The customers seemed to like this feature in the beginning and many years later when it was removed from the systems, there were so many complaints from Spearville customers that it was put back on.

United purchased the Ashland and Englewood exchanges from Western Light and Telephone. The two exchanges had approximately 900 customers in February, 1956.

In February 1959, United signed an agreement to buy the Ensign Telephone Company from the Pegram family.

The organization's bylaws were changed and the first general membership meeting was held in September, 1964. Memberships would now be offered to all subscribers.

1984 - New computers are installed in the office.

In the early 1960's, it was decided United should have a permanent home and an office was constructed at 1107 McArtor Road in Dodge City.

In 1965, a plan was created to update all rural lines to four-party service. This was accomplished within five years resulting in 3,327 subscribers with an average of 4.2 subscribers per rural line.

In February 1971, the first capital credits refund in the amount of $118,924.88 for the credits earned in the years 1960-1963 were paid to members.

The Kansas Corporation Commission granted permission for United to serve the territory previously served by the Fort Mutual Telephone Company in February, 1973. United decided to serve the area with buried cable and to join the exchanges of Ford and Kingsdown. Thus, the exchanges were combined and Ford was cut to dial service in September 1974.

During the late 1970's toll facilities were purchased. Computers were introduced in mid-1980.

In 1983, United Communications was established to provide cable TV service to 8 of 10 of United's

1985 - New digital switch arrives.

In July 1985, United Telephone applied to REA for a 30-year loan to upgrade all ten exchanges to one-party service and install new digital switches. All offices were installed and cut into service by 1989.

In 1992, United Telephone paid in full all of its REA loans and became a debt-free company. Members currently have total equity of the company.

In 1997, United Communications started providing Dial-Up Internet access to its subscribers.

In September 2000, United Communications rolled out its DSL Internet service in all of its exchanges. The service which provides vastly increased speeds over Dial-Up has been very popular.

On June 14, 2002, United celebrated its 50th anniversary of providing services to its exchanges in Southwest Kansas.

United has refunded tens of million dollars in capital credit to settle estates and general refunds and plans to continue this refund policy.

In 2005, United Wireless was started as a way of bringing the latest technology to customers. United Wireless is proud to boast excellent service and phone offerings, including 4G/LTE coverage across Southwest Kansas.

In 2017, United began installing fiber to the home services in it's current exchanges and upgraded traditional copper wireline services to vDSL technology in addtion to its current ADSL2+ services. Fiber internet future proofs United's network and gives the ability for subscribers to gain additional bandwidth for today's high demand for data services.

The United family of companies continues to provide its customers with offerings that help them connect to their world. United is proud to be a major sponsor of many community events and activites throughout its coverage area.