We know that the only way that we will ever be able to compete against such behemoths is through service. Service meaning the local quality, the local attitude, and being able to get service techs out to a home within hours as opposed to our competitors that schedule it two, three, four days out to get just a basic service call. That’s how we compete with the larger companies by providing better customer service that gets our customers back up and running a lot faster.
In 1999 Keller, Texas was a small, remote bedroom community outside of Ft. Worth. Over the years, businesses in the city began moving out into the community and more schools and homes were built to accommodate the growing population. Keller grew into a thriving community and in 2009, Money Magazine ranked Keller as the 7th best city to live in in the United States. Today, the city houses approximately 42,000 people within its 18.6 square miles.
OneSource Communications, which began operating in 1999, is a multi- service company providing TV, phone and internet to its community. Its current Vice President of Operations, Kent Blackwell, has been with them since the beginning. He has played a key role in building out the fixed wireless network, as well as the DSL and Fiber networks. OneSource has been a ZCorum affiliate from the time they first started offering internet service in 1999 and has since grown to over 12,000 subscribers. Kent agreed to talk with us about the Keller community and OneSource Communications.
ZCorum: Tell us a little about the beginning when you first got started.
Kent Blackwell: We had 32 customers when I got here in December of 1999 and our very first customer was the Keller Independent School District. We built out their wide area network, and using the backbone that we built for them we began extending services to new communities and to new retail and business developments along key routes. One of our parent companies at that time was Tri-County Electric and we kind of followed them into a lot of the new Greenfield opportunities even beyond the scope of the ISD original network.
Williamstown Kentucky Broadband
We started providing electric services way back in the early 1900’s with a DC generator. Later we started offering water and then sewer as things built up. We brought cable TV to our area in 1984.
City close, country quiet is the theme for Williamstown, Kentucky, a rural Northern Kentucky bedroom community known for its quiet neighborhoods and proximity to major metropolitan cities. The city of Williamstown comprises a total area of 16.5 square miles. The city is home to one of Northern Kentucky’s largest lakes and has been named a Playful City USA for the past three years.
Williamstown was founded on June 12, 1820 by Captain William Arnold. A Revolutionary War soldier, Arnold donated two and one half acres of land to Grant County to establish the public buildings. The city was named Williamstown in honor of Captain Arnold.
By December of 1821, Grant County had a courthouse, a jail, and a stray animal pen. The first newspaper was published on October 10, 1872. In 1877, the Cincinnati, New Orleans and Texas Pacific Railroad (now known as Southern Railway) laid tracks through Williamstown. There was a depot constructed to serve the needs of the Williamstown citizens and Williamstown was on the map!
From a land filled with history and beautiful scenery, utilities provided by the City of Williamstown have been a part of the area’s history for nearly one hundred years. They provide cable television and high speed internet to local communities in and around Grant County, Kentucky.
Roy Osborne, the Assistant Superintendent at Williamstown Kentucky Broadband, has been instrumental in supporting the local residents and supplying them with cable tv and faster internet services. Roy agreed to sit down with us and give us a little insight on how things are going in Williamstown.
ZCorum: Let’s start with a little background about Williamstown Cable. When did you guys get started?
Osborne: We started providing electric services way back in the early 1900’s with a DC generator. Later we started offering water and then sewer as things built up. We brought cable TV to our area in 1984.
As a small independent CATV operator, it has always been tough, and continues to be so, to keep up with the big boys. Improvements are costly, and much more difficult to keep up with, with a small customer base. With the pace of technology ever increasing, that has only gotten more difficult.
One of ZCorum’s oldest customers, Sweetwater Cable, provides cable TV, digital phone and high speed internet services in Sweetwater County, Wyoming.
Z: Founded in 1956, how did Sweetwater Cable come into being? Are your father and uncles the founders?We recently visited with Marty Carollo, Network Manager at the company, to find out what makes Sweetwater/Green River Cable such a successful family business.
Marty: In 1954, Rock Springs had a community based antennae system, which was unreliable. My grandpa, Al Senior, who only had an eighth grade education, started our company to bring the Salt Lake City Broadcast channels to our town in a reliable, constant way. He felt that people would be willing to pay $5.50 per month (with a $0.50 discount if they paid by the 10th of the month,) for a reliable service.
Z: Was the company always called Sweetwater Cable?
Marty: We’ve always called ourselves Sweetwater Cable here in Rock Springs. Because we had a separate head end in Green River, up until 2004, Green River had to have its own moniker.
Sjoberg’s Cable TV
Even though a lot of things are changing in the way we view tv these days, the industry will adapt as it always does, and will be around for a long time.
Sjoberg’s Cable is a cable TV, phone, and Internet provider located in Thief River Falls, Minnesota, a primarily Scandinavian community about an hour from the Canadian border. Born and raised in Minnesota, Dick Sjoberg has lived there all of his life. He’s been happily married to his wife, Holly, for 41 years and has a son, Ben, who works in the family business with him. With his free time Dick enjoys hobbies such as landscaping, woodworking, and escaping to his Canadian cottage with his wife when time permits. He is also very active in many foundations and boards in the area such as the Minnesota Broadband Task Force and the Blandin Foundation, working to bring broadband to rural communities
Z: We asked Dick about the origins of Sjoberg Cable…
Dick: In 1946 when my mother and father returned from the war effort they started an appliance store selling radios, TVs, vacuums, kitchen appliances, and laundry equipment. In the early 1960’s color TVs became the new thing and my father soon realized that in order to sell color TVs in the area he needed a stronger signal. So in 1962, Bill Bresnan, later to become the owner of Bresnan Communications, helped the elder Sjobergs start up their own CATV company. In 1976 my brother and I took over the family business and for the next 22 years I’ve led a happy life filled with work and family and the cable tv business grew. But by the year 1998 it was clear to me that things were changing rapidly and we added high speed internet and digital data offerings for our customers.