Over the past 100+ years, telephone and other communication services in the De Leon and surrounding area has progressed from when De Leon Telephone Service began in 1895 to present day operations of Totelcom Communications, LLC. More important than ever, being connected in today’s world, whether locally or globally, is vital in day-to-day operations of the home and business. Totelcom recognizes this necessity and strives to continually provide quality service at competitive rates.
Most people would never think the telephone company as being one of the oldest businesses in De Leon, but it is.
In 1895 Bob Gilmore started the De Leon Telephone Service. Records are scarce, but thereafter L.H. Shannon and A. I. Stephens had turns owning the system. In 1904, Stephens sold the system to B.E. Howe who operated it until selling the company to Southwestern Bell in 1929.
In 1944, Southwestern Bell sold the system (all 136 subscribers) to E.F. Stephens who renamed the business De Leon Telephone Company. Stephens converted the old hand crank system into a dial type and expanded his operation to include the Carbon, Desdemona, and Olden areas.
The year 1966 brought change when Stephens agreed to sell De Leon Telephone Company to Comanche County Telephone Cooperative which had to first restructure from a cooperative into a for profit entity (Comanche County Telephone Company, Inc.) to complete the transaction by 1968.
The Cooperative, in the beginning, was a non-profit organization formed in order to acquire borrowed money from the USDA REA’s (Rural Electrification Administration) telephone loan program which began in the late 1940’s. The money received helped provide telephone service to all rural residents in Sidney, Proctor, and Newburg areas. The Cooperative’s first services were provided in 1952 when it purchased a couple of small switchboards from owners who were providing service to a few local homes. It took several years to accomplish full availability of services throughout the planned area.
In the 1960’s, Texas cooperative laws barred a cooperative utility from servicing a city with a population over 1,500. So, in order to provide telephone service to the city of De Leon, Cooperative members exchanged their capital certificates for a restricted single share of $10 stock in the new entity – Comanche County Telephone Company, Inc. (CCTC) – and CCTC actually purchased De Leon Telephone Company in 1968 as above mentioned.
In 1972, the Gorman Telephone Company was purchased by CCTC, and soon rural areas around Gorman also had access to telephone service which had not been available up until this time.
Positioning itself as a leader in innovative technology for rural Texas, CCTC was instrumental in bringing the first wireless service to the area in 1991 through Mid-Tex Cellular, a CCTC subsidiary at the time. Also, CCTC was the second rural Texas telephone company to offer high speed internet access.
In 1995, CCTC’s local owner group of 512 single shareholders voted to remove the restrictions on the stock and sold the company to First American Communications who kept the Comanche County Telephone Company name.
In 2009, Mid-Tex Cellular was sold and the Company changed its name to Totelcom Communications, LLC. Totelcom filed with all regulators to transfer the ownership of the company to TOTE Holdings, LLC which belongs to Toney and Terrie Prather. Toney had been employed as part of Totelcom since 1979 and had served as the company’s senior management since 1989. In March 2010, the sale of Totelcom by First American Communications to TOTE Holdings was completed.
A TOTE Holdings subsidiary, Totelcom Networks, acquired the assets of Our Town Internet in 2010. Our Town served wireless Internet customers in Stephenville and the surrounding rural areas.
Later in 2010, Jennifer Otwell, CPA, Toney and Terrie’s daughter, left the Dallas firm she was employed with and joined TOTE Holdings to make Totelcom a multi-generational family business. Their son, Michael Prather, would return to the area from his New Mexico telecommunications job in 2012 to join the family business.
Operating as a family business, not a marketable investment, TOTE Holdings and the “Totelcom” brand continually upgrades technology to provide its customers with the latest in communications services. Fiber optic technology is being deployed in areas to bring higher speed Internet access in both Totelcom Communications’ service area and by Totelcom Networks in Stephenville and Comanche. Totelcom Networks is also upgrading its wireless network to provide higher speeds.
In addition to network improvements and offering communication services to De Leon and the surrounding communities, Totelcom is quick to support events, fundraisers, projects, and other needs within the community. Whether it’s a donation to a community group or providing labor for a community event, Totelcom believes in local involvement.