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A Brief History of Direct Communications in Idaho

touch-tone-deafIn our office in Rockland we still have the original little Rockland telephone switch on display where owner Leonard May used to sit at as a child. The switch was housed in his family’s own home, and the children would act as operators, 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.
See link to newspaper article about the Lee May family and the roots of Direct Communications. This appears to have been published between 1976 and 1979, presumably in the Power County Press or Idaho State Journal. http://blog.directcom.com/2012/04/12/owning-a-phone-company-for-fun-and-profit-a-look-back-at-1970s-directcom/

 

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 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.

 

Highlights Over the Years

1998

Jeremy Smith joins Direct Communications to build a delivery system for TV over wireless internet spectrum. He successfully built the wireless network and eventually sold the system to Teton Wireless, which becames 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 at the time.

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.

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.’”

To read a full history of Directcom in Eagle Mountain Utah click here. 

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, along with a few other cable franchises around Bear Lake, including Garden City Utah. Jeremy Smith, then 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 the rural town of Aberdeen, Idaho. This was closed a year later due to lack of foot traffic, the cost of keeping a show store open, and the preference of residents for interaction with their ISP over the phone.

 

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 closer to 16% decline in landline subs for the year. However, Direct Communications began to vigorously rebrand, or reposition itself as a broadband company, rather than an old 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.

We offered a new bundle on traditional calling features, launching a new TOP 4 features package, with Caller ID, Call Waiting, Voicemail and Call Forwarding, for only $8.95.

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.

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.

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

We 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 emergency phone success 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 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

The most significant change during 2011 was the sale of our wireless internet business to Digis, after being one of the first companies in southeast Idaho to offer wireless internet over 10 years ago. We made this decision primarily so that we could focus on our core business of growing our fiber optic network in Idaho and developing our wired internet products, including our cable and DSL technologies. The money from the sale would be reinvested into developing the products where we have a real competitive advantage. Read more about this move at: http://blog.directcom.com/2011/10/13/sale-of-wireless-internet-assets-to-digis/

Immediately after the sale of our wireless business, we launched the ESPN3 broadband channel for our high-speed customers in Idaho. 2011 turned out to be a great year to offer ESPN3, because BYU football, which many of our customers follow, went independent largely on an ESPN broadcasting contract, and so most of their games were streamed online on ESPN3 this year.

We were also kept very busy this year working with the three major national mobile phone providers to construct and deliver fiber optic service to most of the cell phone towers in the area, so that they could offer more data to their customers, and we also now wholesale broadband service to most of our competitors in the area. Without an extensive fiber optic network, our rural economy in Idaho would not be able to function in this information age. As our tagline claims, we are the future of broadband technology in the rural areas we serve.

Although this year was one of increased uncertainty for the rural telecommunications industry, with the FCC and federal administration threatening to cut major funding sources for rural areas under the guise of the national broadband plan, Direct Communications as a company made some important strides forward to strengthen our company, get to know our customers better, improve our products and offerings, focus on our core business, improve our competitive position in the markets we serve, and acquire new customers and revenue sources.

Overall, 2011 was a very good year. Our employees and customers should feel satisfied that we made a real difference to our communities, and improved the quality of life in both Idaho and Utah during 2011. We spent the year expanding our fiber network to the vital institutions that serve your rural areas, like schools, hospitals, city, county and government buildings, doctors offices, libraries, small and large businesses, and of course, homes.

Firstly, we were excited to upgrade to a new Metaswitch IP switch in our Idaho exchanges at the beginning of 2011. Direct Communications was the first telephone company in Idaho to implement a digital switch several years ago, and this new central switch replacement was another pioneering step for rural telecommunications in Idaho. The old digital switch was about the size of an average living room. The new switch is about the size of a small refrigerator. A major difference between the new one and the old switch, besides the size, is that this new switch was developed to take advantage of all the newest computer and internet advancements, especially in its ability to use IP protocol, to talk to modern electronic devices, like IP phones, computers, routers etc., and work on a fiber-optic network.

In Eagle Mountain, the year began with some great publicity as Direct Communications was awarded the 2010 Best Business of the Year by the Lehi Area Chamber of Commerce. http://blog.directcom.com/2011/01/19/direct-communications-awarded-2010-best-business-of-the-year/

2011 was an interesting year for marketing with the maturing of social media, which for the first time played an important part of our integrated marketing, and opened up a new target media market for us, since we could now target internet customers online living only in certain towns, and we began spending a significant portion of our advertising budget on facebook ads.

We began the year by splitting our facebook page into two separate pages for Idaho and Utah, to make it more relevant to each market. Acquiring fans was a slow process at the beginning, until we learned the only sure way to entice more customers to our page was with online promotions for facebook fans.  By the end of the year we had over 500 customers on our Eagle Mountain facebook page. See  http://blog.directcom.com/2011/06/14/first-winner-of-directcom-monthly-facebook-fan-contest/

Navigating social media has been a learning experience for us, and we have had to learn to take the good with the bad, as dissatisfied customers also like to use our page as a soapbox, but overall it has been a positive experience for both the company and our customers, and we actually implemented a lot of good suggestions made by customers on our page through our interactions this year.

We presented on the subject of social media at the annual Utah Rural Telephone Association meeting in St George.

Direct Communications Cedar Valley’s own Brenda Caldwell was named Utah Valley’s Raddest Receptionist by Utah Valley BusinessQ Magazine, and Brenda was featured in the Fall 2011 issue. http://blog.directcom.com/2011/09/29/directcoms-brenda-caldwell-named-utah-valleys-raddest-receptionist/

2012

Arbon Fiber-to-the-Home Project Complete

Spring 2012: Direct Communications engineers completed the upgrade of Arbon Valley from traditional copper telephone lines to Fiber-to-the-Home, enabling every resident in Arbon to receive broadband access.

The company’s fiber to the home rollout in Arbon began in the summer of 2009, and since then, Directcom crews have been working around the clock, laying fiber optic cable to all of the homes in the Arbon Valley. Even the very remote homes, from those miles up in the mountains to down the valley, can now receive better high-speed internet service than is available in most cities in the USA. The company began with Arbon because this exchange area had always been the most difficult to serve with traditional DSL over copper, and thus had the fewest broadband subscribers.

Direct Communications buried 158 miles of fiber optic cable in Arbon Valley, bringing fiber to about 90 homes.

CLICK TO READ MORE about Arbon Fiber…

This story was also published in the  Idaho State Journal, Sep 12, 2012.

“Arbon Valley just became a lot less remote thanks to an upgrade of its phone system to fiber optics. Every resident in Arbon now is able to receive broadband access.”

Click on the link below to read the ISJ article.

http://www.idahostatejournal.com/members/article_0c6e26ce-fca1-11e1-887a-001a4bcf887a.html

Summer of 2012 we also buried new duct to about 30 homes in Canyon Estates in Fish Haven.

Direct Communications became the first major internet service provider in Idaho to offer 100 Mbps service to residential customers.

These unprecedented speeds were made possible by the expansion of Direct Communications fiber optic cable to the home service, which the company began installing in 2006 to a limited number of new homes, where it made more sense to install new fiber than copper lines. Over the past two years, Directcom began a systematic upgrade of all the lines in their telephone exchange areas, replacing aging copper lines with new fiber optic cable all the way to the individual customer homes. Once the fiber is in place, there is unlimited potential for more speed. 100Mb was about as much as most modern consumer-grade electronics equipment could handle in 2012.

Jeremy Smith, General Manager for Direct Communications operations in Idaho, explained why the company was aggressively pursuing converting to an all-fiber network: “I see fiber optic cable as being non-negotiable to ensure the economic future of rural America, not just for our customers but also for us to stay relevant as a communications provider. I simply don’t agree with the current Federal Administration’s philosophy that rural Americans don’t need as much speed as people in cities. Everybody needs good internet service; in fact I would argue that rural folks need high speed internet even more than their city counterparts because we are so remote, and fiber is the only way you can push a good broadband signal out far enough to reach all of our customers.”

Smith explained that fiber is the future of the company. “We are building more fiber routes every day, all over southeast Idaho. We just installed a new all-digital switch that runs on Internet Protocol, and is built for the information age. We are directly interconnected by fiber to our next tier provider, and have access to as much bandwidth on the backbone as we need through Syringa Networks. We want our customers to enjoy their time online. We want them to be able to work from home. We want to provide a better experience than the wireless competition. We eventually need to be able to offer 100Mb speeds everywhere in our service areas.”

2012 was a year of building fiber to a lot of Verizon mobile phone towers, as they sought to roll out 4G in rural Idaho. New fiber construction work included towers in:

Paris, Pocatello, Georgetown, McCammon, Fish Haven, Montpelier,  Massacre Rocks, Preston, Soda Springs, Downey, Grace, and Lava.

Published Industry Articles about Direct Communications: “Hooked on Broadband” – pg 12, May 2012 issue of Rural Telecom.

2013

Longtime majority-owner and company President, Leonard May, retires, and leaves to serve an LDS church service mission in Alabama.

We continued to expand our fiber optic network throughout southeast Idaho, mainly through partnering with Syringa Networks to build fiber and provide 100Mb ethernet service to At&t mobile phone towers. New fiber construction work included towers in Arbon, Rockland, Montpelier, Preston, Paris, American Falls, Mccammon, Lava Hot Springs, Aberdeen, Eagle Mountain, Georgetown, Inkom, and Downey.

Fiber to-the-Home Roll-out in Rockland

Direct Communications completed burying new conduit routes and bringing fiber to the home to the southern half of the town of Rockland, and several remote homes along the Rockland Highway south of town. About 85 homes were upgraded from old copper plant to new fiber optic cable directly to the home.

Published Industry Articles about Direct Communications: “Making Your Internet Service Unique, Better and Special” pg 39, May 2013 issue of Rural Telecom.

2014

Directcom launched a fantastic new online Cable TV service feature for all Directcom Cable TV customers in Idaho: WatchTVeverywhere. Watch TV Everywhere allowed customers to view their favorite channels online on any device from anywhere customers have internet access at anytime. Customers away from home who don’t want to miss a favorite show, could now log in and use a smart phone, laptop or tablet as their TV. Plus,  use the online library to access favorite content, like past episodes, online anytime, so prime time is whenever you want it to be. This was a wonderfully convenient new way to watch TV. Read more at http://blog.directcom.com/2014/11/24/-now-available-free-to-all-directcom-cable-tv-customers/

DOCSIS 3.0 Network Upgrade Brought Faster 20Mbps Speeds to Cable Internet Customers
Direct Communications Cable completed a system-wide network upgrade during Summer 2014 that will allow residents in all cable franchise towns served by the company to receive up to 20 megabit-per-second internet speeds. This upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0 means more bandwidth available for everyone, and more consistent speeds, especially during peak hours. Read more…
Directcom Sponsors Idaho High Schools Sports
Direct Communications donated $500 to each of the High School Athletic Programs within the company’s service areas again at the end of the 2013/2014 school year. Direct Communications has an ongoing program to support local high school athletics in the communities served by the broadband company, and offers incentive for student athletes to earn donations for their schools through their participation and own extra effort in all varsity games. Read more…

Fiber to-the-Home Roll-out in Rockland

The upgrade of Rockland from copper to Fiber-to-the-Home continued with the northern half of town under construction during 2014. Read More…

Cow Steps on Fiber- Knocks Out Cell Tower

In one of those moments unique to rural telecommunications, a cow stepped on some fiber optic cable that was exposed during some maintenance work last month in a pasture near the Cold Water area along the Snake River. Read More…

Customers Attend Internet Safety Class


Directcom hosted a community workshops in September demonstrating how to set up internet content filters. Customers from Paris, Fish Haven and Montpelier learned specific ways to block unwanted internet content through their router ensuring devices using the home WiFi network would be protected.  Read More…

 

A Direct Communications team presented at the annual Utah Rural Telecom Association conference in March, where we explained to the local industry leaders and Utah public utilities commission why we are spending every resource upgrading all of our customers from copper to Fiber Optic Cable. Mining all of our customer data for the past few years clearly indicated that fiber customers were generally more satisfied with their internet service than DSL customers, even in cases where they were receiving equivalent speeds.

2015

The end of the State mandated Idaho Education Network (IEN) contract with a single broadband provider resulted in many rural schools in southeast Idaho returning to their local internet providers in Spring 2015, with great benefits for schools and taxpayers alike – specifically, more bandwidth speed for a fraction of the cost. Direct Communications was able to renew business relationships with all the local school districts in rural southeast Idaho, and constructed new fiber to each school district, or relit the existing fiber we laid in the years before the IEN. In most cases we increased speeds from 10Mb or 20Mb to 100 Mpbs or 200Mbps, often for a quarter of the cost schools were paying for Internet service.

Schools Served by Directcom Fiber

Aberdeen School District Aberdeen Middle School

Aberdeen High School

Aberdeen Elementary School

Bear Lake School District Bear Lake High School

Bear Lake Middle School

Clover Creek High School

A.J. Winters Elementary School

Paris Elementary School

Georgetown Elementary School

Grace School District Grace High School

Grace Elementary School

North Gem School District North Gem Senior High School
Preston School District Preston High School

Preston Junior High

Oakwood Elementary

Pioneer Elementary

Franklin County High School

Rockland School District Rockland Public School
West Side Joint School District West Side High School

Beutler Middle School

Arbon School Dist. 383 Arbon Elementary School
Marsh Valley School District Marsh Valley High School

Marsh Valley Middle School

Mountain View Elementary

Inkom Elementary

Downey Elementary

Lava Elementary

University Of Idaho Research Station Aberdeen

 

Read full story of hooking up rural schools to Fiber Optic Cable at http://blog.directcom.com/2015/03/02/end-of-state-broadband-contract-means-faster-internet-and-lower-costs-for-rural-school-districts/

Fiber deployment to commercial entities and small businesses throughout Idaho continued in places like Pocatello, Preston and Montpelier.

Direct Communications partnered with several local Wireless ISPS during 2015 to help them expand their rural coverage by utilizing Directcom’s regional rural fiber optic network to reach remote homes.

http://directcom.com/project/fiber-across-american-falls-dam/

Direct Communications secured a southern route fiber redundant network ring connecting Bear Lake to Salt Lake City and back to Preston.

2016

Direct Communications purchased Rico Telephone Company in Rico Colorado.

Fiber to American Falls 

Direct Communications, expanded its fiber network through the western part of American Falls to cross over the American Falls dam. 1 Gigabit per second Fiber service was made available to commercial customers along the new fiber route in American Falls, which was an unprecedented opportunity for businesses in American Falls. The first fiber route  brought fiber from Direct Communications main fiber hut along the Rockland Highway, then under Interstate 86, and then along McKinley street, past the high school, winding through some residential neighborhoods until  the dam wall. The fiber then follows hwy 39 across the dam, to serve business on the other side and to prepare to take another new fiber path all the way to Aberdeen to connect with their existing fiber infrastructure in that town, where we are the local cable company and broadband provider.

The next project in American Falls was to take fiber to the Power County Hospital District. This presented a new challenge because the hospital was on the other side of town from the fiber going to the dam. Directcom constructed new fiber from the Power County Emergency Services building to the main Power County Hospital, while also constructing new fiber to several other hospital district sites around town, including the clinic and physical therapy offices, in order to build a local area network for the district. This fiber project brought fiber Internet access to businesses throughout the downtown American Falls area for the first time ever, and several local businesses immediately signed on for fiber services, including CHS and Driscolls. Directcom will always recognize that this positive economic development impact on the area was made possible through the commitment and  vision of Power County Hospital District Administrator, Dallas Clinger and IT Admin Jason Povey. We would also like to thank the mayor, city council, and employees at the City of American Falls, and the Power County Commissioners, Sheriffs Department, and Di Jones at the Power County Ambulance District, for their positive contributions to the project and fantastic cooperation.

Fiber to Aberdeen

The small rural town of Aberdeen Idaho, situated on the west side of the American Falls Reservoir on the Snake River, has long been very isolated from a telecommunications perspective, and difficult for communications companies to serve because there was no fiber linking that town to the rest of the world. Even the local telephone company has always served that area by microwave. While Directcom had over the last several years built out a fiber infrastructure inside the town linking institutions such as the local schools, factories, research stations and local businesses, still this traffic had always joined the regional network via microwave over the lake to American Falls. In Fall 2016, Direct Communications became the first Idaho provider to build a fiber optic line from  the American Falls fiber exchange all the way to the town of Aberdeen , thus linking the town to the world via fiber. This construction project involved burying about 13 miles of new fiber across county lines along the Aberdeen Highway, and brought new opportunities for local businesses along the highway and for everyone in and around Aberdeen to enjoy better telecommunications services, especially faster and better high speed Internet.

Many farms and homes in the Pleasant Valley area between American Falls and Aberdeen immediately took advantage of the new fiber line and signed up for fiber to the home services. For many of these customers, it was the first truly reliable Internet service they had ever had access to, since wireless or satellite were the only previously available options.

Fiber to the home to St Charles

The small town of St Charles, situated at the north shore of Bear Lake, became the next town in Idaho to get Fiber to the Home.  Local telephone and broadband provider, Direct Communications,  replaced all older copper communications lines with all new Fiber to the Home, bringing 1 Gigabit Internet speeds and luxury Internet service for all residents living in the city limits. The fiber expansion also reached some homes along fiber branch lines that extended outside city limits, including some subdivisions along the Minnetonka Cave Road .  New fiber was also be installed to homes south down the state highway to about 1/2 mile outside of St Charles city limits. This fiber construction project began in June 2016. This project brought fiber to the home service to about 140 more homes in the Bear Lake area.

Fiber Internet Service to Ammon Idaho

Direct Communications partnered with the City of Ammon to offer Gigabit Internet services over the brand new Ammon City network, with the first customers going live online in December 2016.

2017

Chubbuck City Fiber Ring