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NITCO company history

Abraham Halleck, who's hay business in Jasper County made necessary many trips between his several stations, conceived the idea of connecting them with his office in Demotte. Soon after 1890, number 10 wire strung on native poles was run into Hebron and a pay station was established in Ripley's store where now stands the fire station. Private lines began to supplement the original venture. In 1901, John Ross purchased the system from James McGill who had taken over the system from Mr. Halleck in 1896. Mr. Ross erected a small brick building across from the Hebron Hotel for the exchange.

In 1904, E. Stoeffhass purchased the system, and, after a few years, sold the business to Casebere and Wilkinson. It was on April 1, 1904 when Bruner and Fleming became owners of the exchange that the company moved to its quarters above the bank. A year and a half later, L. F. Porter, from Morocco, became owner. In 1929, it was repurchased by J. F. Bruner. In the fall of 1934 the exchange was moved to the James Morrow property on South Main Street.

On January 1, 1939, the Hebron Telephone Company was purchased by George Mussman and his son Robert Mussman, and, in 1944, they purchased the Demotte-Roselawn Telephone Company which became the Northwestern Indiana Telephone Company. These two companies, the Northwestern Indiana Telephone Company and the Hebron Telephone Company, were operated separately until 1952 when they were merged into the Northwestern Indiana Telephone Company, Incorporated.

In 1955 the business was moved to a modern building erected on Washington Street, the present site. The preliminary planning for this move, which converted the system from the antiquated switchboard to a modern board system, began in January of 1952. The business office did not move until May 1, 1955, to its new quarters. The switchboard had a capacity to handle 10,000 lines or about 50,000 telephones in Hebron and the Demotte area and had eliminated all local operators. Long distance was handled by Crown Point and Valparaiso.

In 1970 the Hebron exchange was divided into two separate exchanges: North-which includes Lakes of the Four Seasons and Hebron-which includes the town and was not changed. Also, a new unattended, switching office was built at Lakes of the Four Seasons.

NITCO moved the companies corporate office in 1976 to its current location at 205 N. Washington Street Hebron. The new office provided space for additional employees that were hired to keep pace with the growth of the community and a Stromberg Carlson ESC-3 switching center for the Hebron (996) exchange. The next major step for NITCO growth and expansion occurred in 1979. Construction and installation for a new central office switching center in the community of Roselawn Indiana was completed. A new telephone exchange number for the Roselawn community ( 345 ) was established and a Stromgberg Carlson DCO digital switch was installed to meet the demands of service. The new Roselawn office provided much needed relief for the Demotte Indiana switching center that had been previously providing telephone service to the Roselawn community. The way telephone companies did business in the past changed for ever when deregulation in the industry became a reality in the in the 1980's.

Competition for long distance calling between AT&T, MCI, and Sprint along with many others led to the Bell System separating into 7 Regional Bell Companies. These drastic changes in the industry created additional challenges as well as new opportunities for NITCO. In 1984 NITCO began to offer their existing customers along with business telephone customers outside their traditional serving area the opportunity to own the telephone systems and equipment they wanted to use in their homes and companies. NITCO began to offer Interconnect services throughout North West Indiana. The term Interconnect is a term that was adopted by the industry at the time of deregulation. It is the term used to describe companies that market, sell, and service telecommunications equipment in direct competition with the local telephone company within the community being served. A sales department was created and for the first time consumers outside the traditional territories of NITCO began to recognize the NITCO name. The primary focus for marketing and selling telecommunications and services continues to be all of Lake, Porter, LaPorte, Jasper, and Newton counties in Indiana. The effects of deregulation in the industry brought about significant change for NITCO that occurred between 1985 and 1989. Plans for a complete upgrade of our central office switching centers were set into motion along with installation of fiber optic connections between the new switching centers and to the rest telecommunications world outside the NITCO serving area.

In 1989 NITCO's Customer Service Department followed the trend and entered the computerized Customer Service era. All 8500 customers were entered into a new database that provided a wide range of additions such as service bureau assistance, billing and collection capability, service order tracking, customer repair records, and outside plant records and reports. This marked the first time a NITCO bill was not being hand stuffed by a local customer service representative.

To date NITCO has become the primary long distance carrier for intra-lata long distance service and has become totally independent of its service bureau by processing its own toll for billing and collection and supporting a complete in house database for its 13,000 telecommunication customers. NITCO continues to aggressively meet the challenges being brought about by increased demands for enhanced services combined with persistent growth within the communities it serves. NITCO is currently replacing five (5) digital switching centers with EWSD, Siemens Stromgberg-Carlson equipment that will provide an on ramp to the information highway. Since 1939 NITCO has maintained a policy of providing quality service at an affordable price while at the same time keeping pace with rapidly changing technology. We proudly pledge to continue that tradition.

Diversity is a necessity in this changing market and NITCO has been on the virtual edge of reality when it comes to positioning itself in the region. As NITCO continues to keep pace with the trends toward deregulation of the local service market it has entered into the Internet Access providers market. In a very short period of time NetNITCO has made itself a front runner in Northwest Indiana and is considered by many to be the preferred provider in the region.