Our History

The beginnings of the modern cooperative movement can be traced back to the town of Rochdale, England. A band of 28 working people formed the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers. Desperate over low pay and high living cost, the 28 local workers invested their money, time, and energy and opened the first consumer based cooperative.
Their goal was to provide themselves with the basic human needs: food, shelter, goods and services. The fame from the Rochdale Pioneers came not from what they did, but from how they did it. Working together, not one, but all workers benefited. From that small group emerged what has become known as the "Rochdale Principles", a set of practices and procedures that have served as a guidepost for cooperatives around the world.
Cooperatives have come a long way since Rochdale. There are tens of thousands of cooperatives in operation today that provide credit and financial services, telephone and electric service, insurance, housing, child care, health care, food, farming, marketing and supply, and news distribution services. Familiar cooperative enterprises include: Associated Press, Ocean Spray, Nationwide Insurance, Land O' Lakes, Ace Hardware and Sunkist. Seven hundred twenty million people belong to CO-OPs all across the world.
Each year America's cooperatives generate more than $100 billion in economic activity. Cooperatives serve more than 120 million people in cities, towns, and suburbs throughout rural America. Cooperatives embody the best traditions of American self-reliance and independence. CO-OPs are successful because they provide nonprofit services to their communities that may not be readily available otherwise.
Rural Telephone was incorporated as a cooperative in February of 1951. The cooperative was formed by a group of farmers and businessmen with an elected Board of Trustees who wanted better telephone service for the rural areas of northwest Kansas.
Today Nex-Tech provides a wide variety of services through the most modern switching and transmission equipment available, including digital switching and fiber optic networks.
The following is a look into the long history of technological milestones and significant contributions to northwestern Kansas by Rural Telephone and Nex-Tech.
  • Rural Telephone is Incorporated as a Cooperative
  • C.K. Nelson first Rural Telephone manager
  • Started Service - With the assistance of REA funds, Rural Telephone acquired its first exchanges in 1954 serving 524 subscribers in Damar, Edmond and Logan with eight-party service over open wire aerial line and a dial switch.
  • Logan, Edmond, Damar cutover from 10 person party line to dial service
  • Purchase Lenora and Morland exchanges
  • Jennings lines go underground
  • Mobile Telephones introduced
  • $3.3 mil REA Loan to go 100% buried
  • Henry (Hank) Austerman begins as second manager of Rural Telephone
  • First Independent to negotiate with Southwestern Bell to own its own Toll Facilities
  • AT&T’s Divestiture into 7 Regional Bell Operating Companies (Independents)
  • FCC Deregulation
  • Larry Sevier hired as third CEO/GM
  • 1st company in Northwestern Kansas to offer services over Fiber Optics
  • RTSC Communications., Inc. to offer expanded services
  • Begins in-house marketing
  • 911 Service
  • Launches IntelliSell - a Telemarketing Firm - in Victoria, KS
  • Interactive TV (ITV) to Classrooms in NWKS Schools
  • Six Lakes Directory produced in-house
  • Vision Plus, Inc. Cable TV service is offered
  • Telecom Act
  • RuralNet Internet service is offered
  • A+ Computers retail sales and services of computer hardware and software for consumers
  • Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Self-supportive lending fund initiated
  • Fiber-to-Home in Hill City and Bogue
  • Launch services to Smith Center and Logan
  • WaKeeney and Quinter exchanges receive service
  • System Solutions, Inc. Purchase/Merger included A+ Computers and ComputerLan
  • Long Distance Services offered
  • “Nex-Tech” Branding
  • Internet Acquisitions
    • MediaNet
    • Hays Daily News Internet
  • NISC – Valley Hope
  • Computer Service of Kansas (CSK) Acquisition (Government Software)
  • PCS Wireless License - Kansas Cellular
  • Nex-Tech Launches CLEC Services
  • 1st CLEC in Nation to Overbuild: Almena, Ks.
  • Announce Launch of CLEC in Almena, Norton and Hays 2001 50th Anniversary of Rural Telephone
  • 50th Anniversary of Rural Telephone
  • CLEC Overbuilds – Facilities-Based -Almena, Norton and Osborne
  • Nex-Tech, Inc. becomes subsidiary of Rural Telephone
    • Replaces SSI
    • Replaces RTSC
  • Nex-Tech Directory Services replaces Six Lakes Directory
  • Acquisitions
    • Edge Technologies (Computer Services), Great Bend
    • Omega Internet Solutions (Internet Provider), Russell
    • IMS, Inc. (Web Development Company), Hays
  • CLEC overbuild in Phillipsburg
  • Networking achievements
    • NW Kansas schools: support agreements
    • Citrix installations in banks
    • Network security assessments – Kansas & Oklahoma – referred by FDIC and OCC
  • Begin offering WildBlue Satellite Internet
  • CLEC services offered in Great Bend
  • 2005
    • Nex-Tech Wireless, LLC., service Launch Date: October 2005
  • Rural Telephone Purchases 10 Sprint/Embarq Exchanges
    • Russell, Osborne, Downs, Burr Oak, Lebanon, Esbon, Courtland, Ionia, Republic and Webber
    • Begin construction and cutover to FTTP in these communities
  • Ice Storms takes down lines and towers
  • National Weather Service Award
  • FTTP – Fiber-to-the-Premise
  • Brainy Bunch
  • Nex-Tech Classifieds sees large growth in memberships
  • Opened New Russell Office
  • Finished Great Bend & Salina Colocations
  • Moved several towns from coax to new IPTV
  • Moved all 33 switches (except Palco) to MetaSwitch in Victoria
  • Completed Stockton, Prairie View & Quinter FTTP; Began Engineering for Hoxie Overbuild;
  • Completed the newly-acquired Sprint/Embarq exchange overbuilds & Norton rebuild
  • Palco & Morland DLC additions
  • Scheduled Minerva DGTV CATV platform for many communities
  • Application for Stimulus Package 2010
  • Awarded Broadband Stimulus Package and begin overbuild
  • Overbuild and new store location in Hoxie
  • Fiber-to-the-premise construction and cutover completed in Almena, Athol, Damar, Gove, Hill City, Long Island and Morland
  • Fiber-to-the-premise construction and cutover completed in Collyer, Hoxie, Logan, Norcatur, Oberlin Toll Route, Palco, Phillipsburg, Smith Center and Woodston
  • Wi-Max construction and cutover completed in Hoxie, Plainville, Phillipsburg, Smith Center and Stockton
  • Governor Brownback awarded NexTech with the highest award bestowed on a Kansas company, the Governors Award of Excellence
  • Branding transition to Rural Telephone dba Nex-Tech
  • Fiber-to-the-premise construction and cutover completed in Plainville
  • Wi-Max construction and cutover completed in Almena, Clayton, Dresden, Norcatur, Norton and Oberlin
  • Nex-Tech Directory Mobile App launched
  • Fiber-to-the-premise construction and cutover completed in Hays
  • Nex-Tech Classifieds Mobile App launched
  • NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association awarded Hays with the Smart Rural Community Award
  • Completed broadband expansion project from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant/loan
  • Larry Sevier retires after 28 years of service(1986-2014)
  • Jimmy Todd hired as new CEO/General Manager of Nex-Tech
  • Nex-Tech awarded Decade of Excellence award from Calix
  • Expanded Nex-Tech Directory to Colorado border
  • Launched TechEdge conference at Fort Hays State University
  • Gig Internet service launched
  • Formed Nex-Tech Generation Round Up for Youth organization
  • Acquired Computer Solutions, Inc., a technology services company
  • Acquired Kansas Independent Telecommunications, a help desk services company
  • Expanded fiber-to-the-premise network to select areas of Hoisington.
  • Expanded fiber-to-the-premise network to select areas of Great Bend.
  • Expanded fiber-to-the-premise network to select areas of Salina.
  • Additional fiber-to-the-premise overbuilds in Alton, Gaylord and Rexford.
  • Nex-Tech partnered with Netflix in its Open Connect program
  • Created new Business product - Advertising Solutions.
  • Acquired CALEA cutsomers from CHR Solutions.
  • Mobile Radio Division Sold to VLS Communications
  • Construction & Engineering placed and turned up over 100 miles of fiber in Jennings, Galatia, Zurich, rural WaKeeney, Salina and Great Bend.
  • Acquisition of CALEA customers from Dobson.
  • Nex-Generation Round-up for Youth program extends to 7,000 involved youth.
  • Launched new product: Cloud Fax.
  • Continuum – Rookie of the Year Awardee.