In 1909 a group of approximately fifty-six residents pledged $34 each to start a new telephone company for Gunnison Valley. For the initial investment, each investor was given 15 shares of company stock. Almost as soon as the stock was received, the stockholders started buying and selling from and to each other, so soon, some stockholders had lots of stock, and others had completely sold all the stock they once had. T. F. Kearns served as the first president, followed by O. B. Berglund in 1911. John M Knighton took the reins from 1913 through 1946 except for a short stint in 1920 when Joseph Blixt was president.
The original home of the Gunnison Telephone Company was a building on Main Street that the company rented for $50.00 per year. The building housed the company’s first operator assisted switch board that was used from 1909 to 1946. From the very beginning, GTC’s commitment has been to provide outstanding service to the community at the lowest possible cost. In 1909, telephone subscribers paid for phone maintenance with a monthly service charge of $1.00 for businesses and .50 cents for individuals.
In 1946 when Howard Norman took over as President and Manager, the old operator switchboard was filled to capacity and purchasing a new switchboard was discussed, but none could be found. In 1947 a Kellogg Relaymatic switch for dial telephone service was place in service at a cost of $15,000. The new switch provided unassisted calling for subscribers and the era of the operator assisted switchboard came to an end.
By 1962 the telephone company had simply outgrown the little office on Main Street and new technology required even more room for additional equipment. So a new office was completed with enough space to accommodate the new Stromberg-Carlson XY switch that was recently purchased. This further improved the quality of service that customers had come to expect from Gunnison Telephone Company.
In 1982 Gunnison Telephone Company installed the first Digital Switch in the entire state of Utah. The new Northern Telecom DMS-10 switch offered features that were more advanced than anything available on the market at this time. The old “party-line” circuits were replaced with new “private line” configurations that allowed customers to have a single line with no sharing with their neighbors. Deregulation of the telephone industry also made it so that customers now could own their own telephone and lines within their house. Throughout the remainder of the 1980’s and 1990’s the DMS-10 switch continued to be updated to offer new features such as Caller ID, Call Waiting and more.
In 1990, after the retirement of Howard Norman, Kent Sanders continued as President and General Manager. Kent had served the company as General Manager, Accountant and Plant Manager during the time that the new digital switch was implemented. At present, Kent and very dedicated employees continue to lead Gunnison Telephone through many changes that new technology and the industry require.
During the 1990’s changes continued to define Gunnison Telephone. In 1992, because of need for additional equipment space, parking and handicap accessibility, a new office was built after purchasing the abandoned lot south of the older building.
1994 saw the beginning of major reconstruction project to remove antiquated aerial lines and replace them with new underground cables. This upgrade project vastly improved the quality of the telephone system and lowered the maintenance requirements of the outside plant. This project continues today with ongoing improvements to the cable system that is approximately 95% complete.
During the mid 90’s, a fledgling movement throughout the country, call the Internet, began to expand and grow. In 1997, Gunnison Telephone Company began offering Gtelco Internet Services in order to provide our customers a gateway to the “information super highway”. With 33K “dial-up” modems, the world was opened to the people of Gunnison Valley. Two years later our equipment was upgraded to provide 56K speeds, which was state of the art at that time.
In 2000, DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) technology emerged that offered unprecedented data speeds and Gtelco was among the first in the state of Utah to offer it to our customers. This technology has continued to evolve and in 2007 another major upgrade was completed that saw new fiber optic cables connecting each of the communities that Gunnison Telephone serves and guaranteeing unsurpassed telephone quality and high speed Internet access for every customer within our serving areas. Now, 50 Mbps speed in common and fiber-to-the-home service is available to those customers that require more demanding broadband services.
For over 100 years Gunnison Telephone Company has continued to be one of Utah’s premiere providers of telecommunication services. What started out as a small corporation has since grown into a full service telecommunications company that is consistently recognized for excellence within the telecommunications industry. Within our serving areas of Gunnison, Centerfield, Mayfield, Fayette and Axtell, we continue to provide the very best in local and long distance telephone services, land-line and cellular calling as well as advanced internet services such as DSL and other high-speed digital internet connections.