Our mission is to always be the most trusted and customer-focused provider of sustainable communications solutions in Southwest Kansas. Our work helps strengthen our communities and enrich the lives of our members, customers, and employees!
Our History Begins with You
United has a rich history of providing residential and business customers in Southwest Kansas with robust communication services and unparalleled, local customer service since 1951. We are a financially strong (member-owners currently have total equity of the company), cooperative-based organization that strives to be excellent stewards of the responsibilities and goals entrusted to us by our member-owners, the Trustees that they have elected to help guide us, and the various customers we have the honor and privilege to serve. We embrace change – which is a constant in our ever-evolving industry – and are determined to be innovative and remain industry leaders in our region. With passion, purpose, and professionalism, United and its employee-partners meet daily challenges and opportunities while crafting a future of excellence!
United Telephone Association, Inc. was organized in 1951 by a number of farmers in the Ford County area who wanted telephone service in the rural area surrounding Dodge City when Southwestern Bell indicated no interest in providing service to this area. These early organizers were soon joined by other interested parties in Gray County.
1956 – First Business Office
The first business office was located at 610 2nd Avenue in downtown Dodge City. United is now headquartered at 1105-1107 McArtor Road in Dodge City and has three other retail store locations, as well as other authorized agents, to support its customers and services throughout Southwest Kansas.
In April 1952, the Kansas Corporation Commission granted United permission to purchase the exchanges of Kingsdown, Spearville, and Hanston. The Spearville purchase included a seven-room house and a repair truck. In November 1953, United suffered its first ice storm in the Spearville area. A new pole line withstood the ice and little damage occurred. This storm convinced customers of the reliability of this new company.
1954 – Dial tone equipment located in the Spearville central office.
United purchased the telephone exchanges located in Cimarron, Montezuma, Copeland, and Ingalls in February 1954. These telephone systems were all purchased from Western Light and Telephone Company and were quickly cut over to dial tone service. Company records report the “new dial is as modern as Sputnik. It gives the beep, beep, beep when busy and cuts off if you’re too chatty. But it’s very efficient.”
United then purchased the Ashland and Englewood exchanges from Western Light and Telephone. The two exchanges had approximately 900 customers in February 1956.
In February 1959, United signed an agreement to buy the Ensign Telephone Company from the Pegram family.
New Home & Giving Back
In the early 1960s, it was decided that United should have a permanent home and an office was constructed at 1107 McArtor Road in Dodge City, where it is still headquartered to this day.
Beginning in 1971, the first capital credit refunds were paid to members. United has refunded tens of millions of dollars in capital credits to settle estates and general refunds and plans to continue this refund policy.
Moving into the Digital Age
Late 1970s – 1997
During the late 1970s, toll facilities were purchased and computers were introduced in the mid-1980s.
1984 – New computers are installed in the office.
In 1983, United Communications Association, Inc. was established to provide cable TV service to most of United’s exchanges.
In 1997, United Communications started providing dial-up Internet access to its subscribers. In September 2000, United Communications rolled out DSL Internet service in all of its exchanges. The service provided vastly increased speeds over dial-up.
Wireless is the Way of the Future
In 2005, United Wireless Communications, Inc. was started as a way of bringing the latest cellular technology to customers. United is proud to boast excellent service and phone offerings, including LTE cellular coverage across Southwest Kansas.
In 2012, United purchased its own wireless switch and began operating services over that network, giving the company more control over providing the best service and most minimal service interruptions to its customers. United also began offering the Apple iPhone, which has remained one of its most popular devices to date.
Paving the Path Into a New Era
In 2017, United began installing fiber to the home services in its landline exchanges. Fiber Internet future proofs United’s network and gives subscribers industry-leading speeds required to keep up with today’s data demands.
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic changed overnight how we worked, played, and learned. United and its employees continued operating the network with minimal interruption and provided at-home learning solutions to those most in need in our communities. United made many network enhancements to support the increased demand for working and learning remotely.
In 2022, United began transitioning its cellular customers from CDMA to VoLTE, once again providing subscribers with the latest mobile technology and the best roaming experience.
United continues to provide its customers with state-of-the-art products and services that help them connect to their world, all while providing outstanding and local customer service and support. United is proud to be a major sponsor of many community events and activities throughout Southwest Kansas.