History of the Nemont Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
Northeastern Montana Telephone Cooperative Association was organized in 1950 by people in rural areas wanting telephone service. The first members purchased several farmer-owned systems in the area (most of these ran along a fence line) and began building a new system. In 1954 there was much excitement in the air when the first dial telephones on eight-party lines were put into service. Montana’s U.S. Senator was on hand to speak at the dedication ceremony. A new office building was also built in 1954.
In 1957 the original name of Northeastern Montana Telephone Cooperative Association was changed to Nemont Telephone Cooperative, Inc (Nemont). Nemont started publishing its own directory in 1960. Converting the billing records to data processing in 1968 was a major step forward.
A completely new telephone system was put into service in 1971 that provided one-party telephone service. By 1976 the office was bursting at the seams and a new headquarters building was constructed at the present location.
In 1978 Nemont purchased Project Telephone Company (Project) at Worden, MT, serving the exchanges of Huntley, Worden, and Pompeys Pillar. Project purchased the additional exchanges of Absarokee (including Fishtail, Roscoe, and Nye) and Belfry (including Clark, WY) in 1980.
Nemont Communications, Inc., (NCI) another subsidiary, was formed in 1979, providing cable television in Scobey, Poplar, and Culbertson. The cable system was sold to Premier Cable in 1988.
In 1992 the boards of directors of Nemont and Valley Rural Telephone Cooperative Association, Inc. decided it would be in the best interest of the subscribers if the two rural cooperatives merged into one. The merger became effective January 1, 1993. The newly merged cooperative retained the name of Nemont with the headquarters office located in Scobey, MT. Included in the merger was one subsidiary company, Computel, Inc. Nemont’s general manager, Tom Henderson, retired in 1993. Richard J. Thronson, Valley Rural’s manager, was appointed as the new general manager.
On April 15, 1994 Nemont acquired 21 exchanges from US West. The ownership of the exchanges was split between Nemont, Project and a newly created subsidiary, Valley Telecommunications, Inc. (Valley)
Upon completion of the acquisition, the board members saw a need to provide cellular services. In 1995 Sagebrush Cellular, Inc. (Sagebrush) was acquired and expanded cellular service in Northeast Montana. Sagebrush now provides wireless service through 81 cell sites.
During 1993 and 1994, NCI began providing Direct TV (DBS) services, bringing another new technology to our service area. This business, including Computel Inc., was sold in 1998.
The necessary expansion of Nemont’s headquarters facilities began in 1995, with the construction of new warehouses. The office complex was remodeled and expanded also, with staff moving into their new quarters in early 1999.
In 1996 NCI began offering local dial-up Internet access. High-speed Internet was officially released in Glasgow in February 2000 and is now available in most of our exchanges. Nemont has been recognized in the national media for its deployment of broadband technology in rural areas.
Nemont, along with several other Montana telephone cooperatives, started Vision Net in 1996. Through this joint venture, Interactive TV services are available to area high schools, colleges and hospitals in our service area. This service provides business conferencing, academic courses for students and adults, and connectivity to major medical facilities for our hospitals.
In 1999 an upgrade was completed and CLASS Features, such as Caller ID, became available. Also in 1999 NCI began offering Nemont Long Distance services to the customers of Nemont and its subsidiaries.
Following several years of dedicated effort, Project, along with Qwest and Triangle Telephone, established the largest local calling area in the state in 2002.
Missouri Valley Communications, Inc., (MVC) a subsidiary of Nemont was formed to operate the newly acquired exchange in Williston, ND. This exchange was purchased in April of 2003 from Citizens Communications who was divesting itself of all its North Dakota properties.
Nemont offers cooperative education, telephone etiquette sessions and job shadowing at no charge. The e-rate program has brought over $2.5 million in discounted services to our service areas. Nemont supports area clubs and businesses as well as social and civic organizations.
Nemont Telephone Cooperative, Inc., its subsidiaries and staff, enjoy living in and doing business in the communities we serve. Thank you for your continued patronage.
Nemont’s Cooperative Principles
- Voluntary and Open Membership
- Democratic Member Control
- Member Economic Participation
- Autonomy and Independence
- Education, Training and Information
- Cooperation Among Cooperatives
- Concern for Community