Defiance Telephone Company History
First, there was a BIG Bang.......moving right along:
Jerry and Alice Bieker were married in 1946, and took residence in the apartment behind the telephone office, providing night operator duty. Hired operators were on duty from 8 AM until 10 PM. After hours only emergency calls were handled. Nearly 200 customers were served that year at a rate of $1.25 per month. ($1 per month for prompt payment) Service to Irwin was free, Earling was 25 cents per month. By 1948 the rates were $3 per month. Toll calls were made via a line to Harlan, where operators would establish connections to the rest of the country. (this could require minutes to hours before the call was completed) A typical busy day involved 60 local calls and 10 to 20 long distance calls. The local knowledge and friendliness of the operators were considerable, even going up the street to find a husband for a concerned wife. They would soon be missed.
Progress came in 1961 with the installation of a used Leich Dial System, purchased building and all from Neche, South Dakota. It arrived by rail on December 2nd, 1960 and was put into service on May 16th the following year. It was replaced in 1967 by a used Stromberg Carlson X-Y Dial System that provided more lines and Direct long Distance Dialing. The old system was sold to senator Bill Blodgett of Teller, Alaska to serve residents of Amchitka on the Aleutian Islands in 1968.
The town hall was rented in 1971 to celebrate Jerry's 25th year in the telephone business. By 1973 party lines became a thing of the past. Defiance served over 250 private lines. Note: Iowa had over 300 small telephone companies that year, many family owned, some smaller than 100 lines.
Jerry died in November of 1979, leaving wife Alice and son Jerald to continue the company, completing underground placement of rural and local lines. A new office replaced the original in 1980. Defiance celebrated it's Centennial in 1982. Other siblings began working part-time, and conversion of the billing and accounting to computers began.
In 1987 a new Northern Telecom Digital Switching System was purchased and put in service on May 3rd, 1988. This provided call waiting and many other modern features, replacing the aging mechanical dial system. A backup generator was added in 1989 and proved useful as the ice storm that winter caused extensive power outages. Cable TV was installed in town that summer, providing a dozen channels for $10.95 per month.
About that time a consortium of small Iowa Telephone Companies got together to create Iowa Network Services to provide equal access to other Long Distance providers. Soon, local Internet access was also available via INS. Thanks to them, you are reading this now!
Another Nortel Switching system was purchased and installed in 1998, providing Caller ID and many other enhancements. The basic rate for telephone service starts at $8.50 for a residential line. What the next millenium will provide remains to be seen.
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