Technology, Community, and Looking Toward the Future: Celebrating NDTC Through the Years

The NDTC headquarters campus in a bird’s-eye view on a sunny morning.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly 29 years since the founding of North Dakota Telephone Company. Over the decades we have continually expanded our service area and upgraded our infrastructure to bring the latest technology to our customers, with the best that telecommunications has to offer.

Keep reading to learn about our history, how we’ve grown with the community, and what we’re looking forward to in the future!

Black & white group photo of 26 NDTC employees in 1994, arranged in three rows.

The Early Years

The roots of NDTC go back to 1993, when a consortium known as The Phone Company (TPC), formed by United Communications (Langdon, ND); Dakota Central (Carrington, ND); and Polar Communications (Park River, ND), purchased 15 exchanges in the Devils Lake area from GTE, forming North Dakota Telephone Company (NDTC). On November 1st, 1993, NDTC began operations with 29 employees.

Within three years we made our first expansion, nearly doubling in size upon acquiring an additional 11 exchanges in June 1996. Five more employees joined the NDTC team, bringing the total number of staff to 34 and marking the beginning of an innovative period for our company.

Growth continued that year, as we partnered with our three founding companies to form North Dakota Long Distance, giving customers another option for their long-distance service. Also in 1996, NDTC, along with 14 independent telephone companies from across North Dakota, formed the Dakota Carrier Network (DCN), making it possible for local exchange carriers to connect with one another and with national telephone service providers. DCN also supplied the infrastructure for broadband internet, particularly with the addition of SONET, or Synchronous Optical Network, rings. This technology has proven integral in facilitating our expansion, as well as providing the means for upgrading the services we are able to offer.

Black & white photo of NDTC employees posing with shovels at a groundbreaking ceremony

New Headquarters

With all the new services and the burgeoning customer base that used them, it became clear that NDTC was quickly outgrowing our space. By 1999 the staff was working out of separate buildings around Devils Lake, including the main building at 502 5th Street South and the Multi Service Building at 512 4th Street, in the heart of town. The warehouse and garage were also converted into offices. We were at a point where building a new headquarters was not only reasonable, but a necessity. Construction began that year on the new home of NDTC.

By the end of the century, we had consolidated operations into the sprawling complex at Devils Lake’s north edge. Additional office space, a larger garage for the growing fleet of utility vehicles, a training facility, and an expanded warehouse were among the upgrades made to our headquarters in 2004, helping us to run more efficiently and better serve the community.

Another Golden Era

The mid-2000s were the next golden era, as we became a part-owner of the utility-construction firm North Plains Utility Contracting (NPUC) in 2003, along with our umbrella mates United Communications and Dakota Central. Polar Communications would assume an ownership stake three years later. NPUC has gone on to provide boring and burying services, installing underground cable for owner companies as well as other utility companies.

In 2006 we began offering fiber-to-the-premises, or FTTP. Besides providing crystal-clear telephone service, this cutting-edge technology has brought reliable broadband internet and, starting in 2007, digital television to the region. As new technologies develop, this fiber optic infrastructure will continue to accommodate our future growth and expansion.

Community Involvement

NDTC has been a forward-thinking company from the beginning. One of the most important ways in which we deliver on this promise is with our Scholarship Program. Each year since the program began in 2000, NDTC has awarded ten scholarships to area high school seniors to further their education after graduation.

Our Dollars in Motion program is another way in which we invest in our communities, giving back to charities and organizations every month since September 1995. Dollars in Motion helps fund a variety of community projects, school events, and non-profit activities that enrich the lives of those who live, work, and play in our local serving area.

NDTC’s more than 60 employees actively participate in volunteer work, donating their time and resources to help make Devils Lake and surrounding communities pleasant places to live and raise a family. From sponsoring local events and tailgates, to hosting open houses and educational tours of our facilities, to donating to local food banks and other charities, our NDTC team shows civic pride in myriad ways.

Looking to the Future

Most recently, NDTC has been on the leading edge of telecommunications advancements by becoming a Smart Rural Community Gig-Certified provider in 2018 as a member of the Rural Broadband Association (NTCA). Gig internet is the fastest internet available anywhere, and very soon we will offer speeds of up to 10 Gig. We’re ensuring that with the fiber broadband infrastructure in place, our customers will continue to have access to the highest speeds now and in the future.

From humble beginnings, through rapid expansion, to the pinnacle of high-speed internet, our team at North Dakota Telephone Company is proud to have had a positive impact on the communities we serve in a relatively brief period – and it’s only the beginning. Here’s to the next 29 years!