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Direct Communications, an independent telecommunications leader, has been providing quality communications services since 1954, specializing in rural areas.

Presently, Direct Communications provides telephone, high-speed internet, cable television, satellite, and long distance service to customers across the states of Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Utah.

CORPORATE BLOG NEWS
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First Winner of Directcom Monthly Facebook Fan Contest
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Direct Communications awarded 2010 Best Business of the Year
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Direct Communications visits CES 2011
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Farewell to the Oxford Community Center
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Ranches Academy Purchases New Playground Equipment with Donation from Direct Communications.
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Direct Communications Supports Eagle Mountain’s FC Blaze
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DirectCom Lays Fiber-to-the Home in Arbon Valley
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Xbox Winners from 2010 Eastern Idaho State Fair Announced
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Direct Communications to donate $100 of each sale in July to School District #25.
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Direct Communications supports Eagle Mountain Schools
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Direct Communications Opens New Retail Store in Preston
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Direct Communications Is New 2011 Allinger Community Theatre Sponsor
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how-the-national-broadband-plan-could-impact-your-telecom-services
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Direct Communications Makes a Move
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Direct Communications donates $1000.00 to Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25.
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Who is Direct Communications?

In our office in Rockland we still have the original little Rockland phone switch on display; the president, Leonard May, used to sit at that switch as a child, which was housed in his family’s own home, and act as the operator, and manually change plugs around to switch the calls. An alarm would ring each time there was a call, and somebody in the family would have to wake up to connect the caller. He bought the company from his father in 1974, and from 300 local subscribers then, we now serve over 10,000 customers with a range of communications products including local & long distance telephone service, mobile phone, VOIP, high-speed internet and cable TV.

We are leaders in independent communications, and pioneers in our industry.
For example, we were:
First to implement a digital switch in Idaho.
First to use fiber optic cable in telephone communications network in Southeast Idaho.
First to provide high-speed internet to rural southeast Idaho.
First to provide high-speed internet service to rural towns in the John Day Valley in Eastern Oregon.
First to install fiber optic cable to the home in Eastern Oregon.
First IP switch in Southeast Idaho.
First to offer DBS satellite in Southeast Idaho.
First to offer satellite internet in Southeast Idaho.
One of the first cellular offerings in Idaho.
Helped build the first and only state-wide fiber optic cable sonet network.

1998
Jeremy Smith, future manager of internet and TV services, hired at Direct Communications to build a delivery system for TV over wireless internet spectrum.
He successfully builds the network and eventually sells the system to Teton Wireless, which becomes a longtime partner of Direct Communications in delivering wireless internet to the metro areas of Idaho.

2004
Direct Communications purchased a number of floundering cable properties in rural Idaho--namely the towns of Bancroft, Downey, Georgetown, Grace, Lava Hot Springs, McCammon, Montpelier, and Paris, from Mallard Cable Vision, headquartered in Massachusetts. We, along with a few other Idaho independent telcos, formed Independent Cable Systems (ICS) of Idaho, to manage these cable properties.
We have succeeded in these rural areas where larger out-of-state companies have failed because of our commitment to invest in the local communities we serve. We upgraded, or in many places, replaced the entire cable plant, added internet service, added 60 digital cable channels and about 20 new analog channels, took down the old microwave towers and joined the towns together with fiber optic cable, and extended the network to add a number of new towns to our cable area. ICS is now a profitable, thriving business and is unique in Southeast Idaho as a locally-owned cable company.

2005
Direct Communications purchased the Aberdeen cable franchise from Cable One in November 2005, with the goal of investing in and improving the system, and believed we could turn the struggling cable company in Aberdeen around due to our expertise in managing communications for small towns. We had two strategic improvements to make—launch an ISP over the cable, and introduce a new local channel.
At the time, the residents of Aberdeen had no access to line-based High Speed Internet, since neither the local telephone company or Cable One had offered an ISP there in the past. By the summer of 2006 we had completed the necessary investments and upgrades needed to offer high-speed internet over the cable system, and launched that product in August, offering speeds up to 2Mbps at an affordable price, which was unprecedented in Aberdeen. We now offer up to 5Meg speeds.

In 2006 we also enhanced the TV channel line-up, adding five new channels, one of which was a new local channel dedicated to broadcasting community events, which we set up within days of the purchase. For example, Aberdeen High School sports games are now being broadcast on Direct Communications Cable, channel 99, appropriately named The Aberdeen Channel.

We hire our first marketing director.

2006
January 2007 saw the momentous occasion of the official acquisition by Direct Communications of Eagle Mountain Telecom, previously owned by Eagle Mountain City in Utah. This was a sale 5 years in the works.
Direct Communications learned about Eagle Mountain Telecom in 2000 at an industry event. We developed a relationship with EMT offering assistance when we could. We were always interested in acquiring EMT, as we could see the enormous growth potential, but it was not until November, 2001 that Eagle Mountain decided it wanted to sell the utility.
The major challenges were twofold: 1.) Establishing a rate base. In this industry companies are regulated based upon their assets. The different accounting procedures of a municipality from a telephone company created some major difficulties in establishing what the assets were and whether or not Direct could recover on those assets. 2.) The regulatory challenge of taking a non-regulated telephone company operating without a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity within Qwest’s certificated area and turning it into a regulated incumbent local exchange carrier with its own certificated area. It required state and federal regulatory approval from the Utah PSC and the FCC as well as Qwest had to be willing to change their service territory to accommodate Direct’s new property in Eagle Mountain. Much of this work was acomplished by Kip Wilson, first general manager of Direct Communications Cedar Valley, who afterwards stated: "I am pretty proud that we were able to accomplish that feat. Leonard recognized it was a problem and always said: 'problems need solutions, and if we stay the course we are the most likely solution.'”

2007
In January 2007, Direct Communications, along with four other local, long-standing, Idaho telephone companies, announced the opening of Syringa Wireless, LLC, a mobile phone company. Each member company owns 20% of Syringa Wireless and has a member on the board of directors. Garrin Bott, who sits on the Syringa board for Direct Communications, explained: “We have a proud history of bringing new technologies to rural Idaho, so helping launch Syringa Wireless seemed a natural step for our company to take. Being able to offer a great product like this to the folks of southeast Idaho is a result of years of collaboration with our friends at the other independent phone companies in Idaho, and a testament to the value that partnerships between local companies can create.”

On March 31, 2007, Direct Communications officially bought the Preston cable franchise from Comcast. Jeremy Smith, general manager of cable services for Direct Communications, explained that the sale would be benefit all parties involved. “It made a lot more sense for us to take over service for Preston, because managing a small, remote system simply wasn’t efficient anymore for a large company like Comcast. We, on the other hand, specialize in serving rural towns, and will be able to offer new services here that will make life better for the residents of Preston.
In October of 2007, we completed laying fiber optic cable to Preston, which connected Preston directly to Idaho’s state-wide fiber-optic backbone, and Preston was finally connected directly to the world. In the past, the only way to get traffic out of Preston was wirelessly, but once we brought fiber to the valley, even Qwest began to lease access from us. Direct Communications plans eventually to connect Preston’s cable system directly to the rest of our ICS cable network, which will bring digital programming available in Preston, and potential for hundreds of new TV channels.

2007 also saw the owners of Direct Communications acquire a new telephone property in New Florence, Missouri, which is now operated from our corporate office in Rockland.

In September 2007, we opened an experimental service store, to sell communications services, namely cable TV, VOIP and internet, as well as Syringa Wireless phone service, in Aberdeen, Idaho.

2008
This year was another difficult one for traditional phone companies across the industry due to an acceleration in landline substitution, especially in younger households. The national average of annual decline in regular phone subscribers was about 8%. In our Idaho exchanges, we were seeing a similar attrition rate, yet in our Eagle Mountain, Utah, exchange, where 80% of the households are under the age of 40, it was a far more challengin scenario. However, Direct Communications began to vigorously rebrand, or reposition itself as a broadband company, rather than a telephone company.  We launched new cable internet speeds in all our cable markets, ranging from 2Mb to 6Mb, with a discount for bundling service with cable TV.
We also bundled our Syringa cell phone service with our other products, offering a $5 discount for each product you added with us, so if you had landline, plus DSL, plus cable TV, you could have a $15 discount off your cell phone bill.

At the beginning of 2008, we opened new retail locations on Main Street in Preston, Idaho, and in Chubbuck, Idaho.
We launched a new product, in partnership with Digital Bridge, called Direct WiMAX, in the urban areas of Pocatello, Idaho Falls, Rexburg and Twin Falls. This utilized the new WiMax technology and a portable broadband modem. This expanded our broadband customer base into the larger cities where we lacked network facilities.
In Utah we tried to focus our marketing on our new fiber network, which included fiber-to-the-home deployment in all new subdivisions. We installed a new digital telephone switch, with state-of-the-art capabilities to support our growing digital fiber network.

2009
Our efforts to position ourselves as the future of broadband technology began with an overhaul of our broadband offering in Utah, where we upgraded our packages to new speeds ranging from 3Mb to 20Mb. Kip Wilson, general manager of the Utah property,  also came up with a revolutionary idea of offering a bare-bones landline service with only 10 minutes of measured service, and unlimited 911 calling, which was branded e-phone, or emergency phone, for only $1 excluding taxes. Since the market was moving away from regular landline anyway, ephone was a way to remain competitive in the changing market, because people could have the safety of a landline, with the vital benefit of still paying bundled rates for our broadband service, which was the key to our long-term strategy of becoming the only real choice for serious broadband services. After seeing a couple of years of declining landline subscription, this year was a new dawn for Direct Communications Cedar Valley, and our market share steadily began to grow again.

Our efforts to position ourselves as the future of broadband technology began with an overhaul of our broadband offering in Utah, where we upgraded our packages to new speeds ranging from 3Mb to 20Mb. Kip Wilson, general manager of the Utah property,  also came up with a revolutionary idea of offering a bare-bones landline service with only 10 minutes of measured service, and unlimited 911 calling, which was branded e-phone, or emergency phone, for only $1 excluding taxes. Since the market was moving away from regular landline anyway, ephone was a way to remain competitive in the changing market, because people could have the safety of a landline, with the vital benefit of still paying bundled rates for our broadband service, which was the key to our long-term strategy of becoming the only real choice for serious broadband services. After seeing a couple of years of declining landline subscription, this year was a new dawn for Direct Communications Cedar Valley, and our market share steadily began to grow again.

In January 2009, Direct Communications led the rural telecom industry in the launch of a new low-cost landline choice, called emergency phone, or ephone, by Direct Communications. This was a regular landline, but without the unlimited calling. The service is free. All you pay is some of the taxes and fees associated with regular phone service.
What do I get with e-phone?
Unlimited 911 calling.
500 minutes incoming calling.
10 minutes local outgoing calling.
Unlimited calls to the phone office.
Directory assistance.
Operator Service.
Overage minutes are only 10c per minute. (Compare that your cell phone.)
Ability to make long-distance calls. (At regular long-distance rates.)

What are the benefits of e-phone?
Get the fastest broadband service in Eagle Mountain at a lower price because it’s in a bundle.
Peace of mind knowing you will have a phone that works in an emergency.
911 services will find your home.
A local 789 home phone number to give out when you don’t want to list your mobile phone number.
A safety phone for your kids and babysitter to use from your home.
Incoming calling minutes to offset high usage on your cell phone plan. 

In Idaho, we expanded our state-wide fiber network, offering fiber-to-the-premises to retail and wholesale customers.

In April, we opened a new community center in Oxford, Idaho, with 10 computers and high-speed internet available for free public use, to add to our outreach program which already included another 10-computer community center in Paris, Idaho.

Direct Communications was featured in the September 2009 issue of Rural Telecom, the NTCA’s official industry publication, in an article titled “Emergency: How One Telco Turned The Tide With Young Customers,” explaining how we had met the needs of our customers and grown our subscriber base with the ephone. This article led to a number of inquiries from other rural telcos all over the country wanting to know more about our offering.

2010
2010 was another year of growth in Eagle Mountain for Direct Communications, where we defied all landline industry loss trends and saw a growth of 14% in our landline subs. This was remarkable especially considering the stagnant housing market. This growth was accompanied by a 30% growth in the number of broadband subscribers.

Our priorities for the year were to win back market share by leveraging our superior fiber-optic broadband service, and migrate current customers to higher bandwidth.
We felt that to focus on our competitive advantage of being able to provide more bandwidth, we had to offer an improved online experience to the customer and show people how they could do more online with us versus our competitors, so we focused all our marketing on applications.

We felt we could increase broadband subscribers by becoming the primary source of entertainment in the home. Xbox was a perfect promotional item for that marketing strategy. Our unique competitive advantage is that as the only wire-line broadband provider in the area, we are able to provide the higher speeds and unlimited bandwidth needed for high definition video streaming. Our wireless competitors fear streaming—we needed to encourage it. Besides gaming systems, we later gave away Apple TV players and also began to offer ESPN3.com to our customers.
We also improved incentives on refer-a-friend program to $100 per referral, which tripled the number of customer referrals compared to the precious years.

Direct Communications was invited to present our story at several telecommunications industry events around the country and explain how we market emergency phone service. We presented at the Fall NTCA Conference in St Louis, and again at the Winter OPASTCO Conference in Miami, the Zone/ANPI Conference in Park City, and the Utah Rural Telecom Conference in St George. The most fascinating aspect of our story to out-of-state companies appeared to be the unique demographics of Utah County, and the overwhelming proportion of young families in the area.

In Utah we launched our first unlimited long distance offering, and an all-VOIP digital phone product.
In Idaho we launched Amped Up Wireless in the Pocatello area, which offered the first 3Mb upload to residential customers, so we marketed that as the fastest upload speed in Idaho, with a symmetrical 3mb up and down at $34.95 and a 7Mb down/3mb Up for $44.95. We tried to focus on more tech-savvy consumers with high bandwidth needs—gamers, people who work from home etc. We tried to partner with the school districts on our launch. On October 25, 2010, Direct Communications donated $1000.00 to School District 25.  This was in conjunction with a June 25, 2010, Direct Communications fundraiser for local education.  Direct Communications introduced Amped Up Wireless in the area, and pledged to donate $100.00 for each new install of the product during the launch. This story was covered by KPVI News 6, who aired a segment on the 6pm news about the donation. To see the video, visit:http://www.kpvi.com/story.php?id=30362&n=15206
We opened a new retail location in Pocatello on Yellowstone Ave, described at Direct Communications Makes a Move. We tried to become more involved in the Pocatello community, becoming active in the local Pocatello chamber of commerce and hosting booths at the Bring Your Own Business Fair, Idaho Spring Fair, Family Fun Day, and Chubbuck Days. We also had booths at the Franklin County Fair, the Bear Lake County Fair, Caribou County Fair, Pony Express Days, , and Eastern Idaho State Fair.

We ventured in the new world of corporate social media, launching our first corporate blog, YouTube Channel and Facebook pages.

We began major upgrades to our cable network, starting in Montpelier, so that we could offer 10Mb speeds.

2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



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