In 1900 a small exchange was organized by a group of farmers in Norway
Township, Wright County, with only four lines. The switchboard was
located in the Sam Stueland farm home two and a quarter miles south of
Kanawha. Mrs. Stueland was the first operator, and J. Olson and Tom
Berhow were the first officers. The lines, called switch lines, were
owned and maintained by the subscribers, who paid a switch fee for the
operator to switch them.
In 1908, the telephone office boasted sixty local phones and nine party
lines. The office was located in the bank building, with George W.
Madson in charge and Ada and Edna Huyck as operators. By 1910, the rates
in Hancock County for telephone service were $12.00 per year (if paid
quarterly in advance). Nels Thorson was contacted at Chicago Bell
Telephone in Illinois, arriving in mid-July 1901, when the Norway Rural
Telephone Company was established.
Norway Rural Telephone had made major investments in plant and equipment
since the fall of 1983, when Cable TV went into service. The new
subsidiary was known as Norway Cablevision and was installed in 350
homes in Kanawha. The new plant and office building was constructed in
1984 and occupied in January of 1985. The replacement of the original
Stromberg-Carlson switching equipment was completed August 6, 1986, and
the cutover was December 16, 1986.
In August of 1988, the board of directors approved the joining of two
cellular telephone Rural Service Area (RSA) groups, #10 and #14. This
made it possible for other telephone services to be offered to our
customers as well as other residents of northern Iowa.
In June of 1989 Norway Rural Telephone Co. completed its cutover to Iowa
Network Services (INS). This gave our subscribers equal access for long
distance carriers. INS was founded by the Independent Telephone
Companies of Iowa for this purpose.
On January 27, 1992, Norway Cablevision purchased the cable system in
Klemme, Iowa, from Oak Cable Company of Huxley, Iowa. Randy Yeakel had
been promoted to manager of Norway Rural Telephone Co. in late 1991. At
this time the Norway Rural Telephone Co. had 635 telephone lines and 390
cable customers between the communities of Kanawha and Klemme.
Norway Rural Telephone Co. began offering Internet service in the summer
of 1994. This service is brought to us by Net/INS, Inc., which is part
of Iowa Network Services. In November the Cable Company purchased
Hamilton Cable Company from Martin Hamilton of Wesley, Iowa. This
company serves the communities of Corwith and Wesley.
In the spring of 1999, Norway Rural Long Distance Co. (now
Communications 1 Long Distance) was formed to help bring competitive
rates to our subscribers. With two rate plans to choose from and 800
services all on one bill, it's very convenient for customers.
In 2002 Norway Rural Telephone purchased Corwith and Klemme telephone
and became Communications 1 Network, Inc.
Communications 1 continues to offer voice, Internet and cable television
to customers in Kanawha, Klemme and Corwith. The company has 1,165
access lines and 528 cable customers.
In 2008, Communications 1 embarked on an $8 million project to improve
telecommunications services in southern Hancock County. The
fiber-to-home project positions Comm1 as one of only about five percent
of companies in the United States that offers this state-of-the-art
fiber service. Customers receive crisp voice, speedy Internet and clear
digital cable television. The company had the services available to
nearly all customers by the end of 2009.
Comm1 is also a popular supplier of cell services in Hancock County. The
company offers the Iowa-based i-wireless™ brand through the home office
in Kanawha and agents in Britt and Garner. The company placed two new
cell towers in Garner and one in Britt during 2009.