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.
On January 13th, 1965 automation came to Kanawha with the flip of a switch that marked completion of a two year modernization project on the part of the Norway Rural Telephone Co Dial service that is now part of the community. This direct dial system is currently one of the three in the entire country that is 100% underground and features a private line for every customer with vastly improved voice quality.
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 (built in 1965) 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.
Communications 1 joins a three member partnership to purchase Goldfield Telephone and Goldfield Access network. Over the next 6 years it will help guide and direct the fiber expansion of Humboldt and Wright county; including the cities of Humboldt, Dakota City, Renwick, Goldfield and Clarion.
Communications 1 continues its network expansion and it’s reach into Wright county with the overbuild of Belmond Iowa. Bringing the Comm1 network and touch to another community.
Along with the challenges of Covid 19, there came opportunity. Communications 1 doubled it reach and customer base by becoming the sole owner of Goldfield Telephone and Goldfield Access Network on Jan 1st 2021. The consolidated network will reach into 5 Iowa counties, serve 11 cities and have over 7000 customers. It marks the largest expansion in Communications 1 history and adds 13 employees.
Communications 1 expansion continues with the completion of the fiber build In Clarion Iowa. This project adds 700 more locations served by the Communications 1 fiber to the home network.