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The Mulberry Cooperative Telephone Company was founded in 1901 by Charles Combs and Joe Steckels. It was first known as the Mutual Phone Company and in 1902, it was chartered as the Peoples Cooperative Telephone Company. The first telephone line in Mulberry was one linking the post office to the railroad station. When the mill was also added to the line, it was so busy with business calls to the mill that it was not available for its originally intended use by the railroad depot and post office. A thunderstorm that destroyed the lines to all three telephones led to a more serious approach in the formation of a local telephone exchange company.
The original charter expired in 1927, and in 1929, it was renamed the Mulberry Cooperative Telephone Company. Metallic service, using two wires for the circuit, was installed the following year. Levi Kratzer was the telephone operator for 32 years.
Magneto service was in use for six decades. With that operation, it was necessary to crank a generator on the phone that sent a signal to the operator of the switchboard. She would then connect your line to whichever line you wanted to call. It was also possible to call others on your party line without involving the operator by ringing the code for the party being called.
A 1940 survey showed there were 650 miles of telephone lines and 600 telephones in the Mulberry and Dayton area. Serving a 10-mile square area in western Clinton County and eastern Tippecanoe County, the cooperative nearly doubled its number of stations from 1940 until 1966, bringing that number to approximately 1,200.
In 1958, the overhead lines were buried, and Mulberry customers no longer had to call a local operator for a connection after the dial service was installed in 1961. Direct distance dialing capabilities became possible 1966. Extended area service was added at the same time enabling Mulberry customers to call Lafayette, Rossville, Buck Creek, Frankfort and Clarks Hill without a toll charge.
In 1987 Mulberry Cooperative installed a Nortel DMS-10 for digital switching replacing the old mechanical switch.
In 1998, mintel.net was registered, bringing dialup Internet to Mulberry and Dayton customers. With Mulberry's unique local calling areas, Mulberry Telephone become a hub for many local and regional Internet providers offering dialup using Mulberry Telephone's switching services.
In 2006, Mulberry Telephone Company began providing television services, IPTV, over the telephone lines.
Mulberry Telephone Co. has grown rapidly and at the beginning of 2009 were serving over 2,600 customers from its single exchange as well as offering our own long distance service and internet service, including DSL. The company helped form IFN (Indiana Fiber Network) with 19 other independent telephone companies as well as IVN (Indiana Video Network) with 7 other independent telephone companies to provide advanced telecommunication services throughout the state.
In December 0f 2007, Mulberry Telephone completed a phase of remote cabinet installations that extended our fiber further into our exchange. They continue to bury fiber throughout the exchange to begin offering fiber to the home (FTTH) in 2009.
2009 saw many major upgrades beginning with the installation of a Nortel CS1500 Softswitch that replaced the DMS10. Our first FTTH project was completed with fiber throughout the Mulberry Health Care complex. We added VDSL service that increases data speeds 3x to 50-70Meg.
Mulberry Telephone remains a privately held cooperative and a leader in advanced digital services in the state.
...to be continued