In a deal between two broadband and telecom operators in rural southeast Iowa, Kalona Cooperative Technology Company (KCTC) acquired Farmers & Merchants Mutual Telephone Company (Famtel).
The transaction was about two years in the making. The companies had shared ideas over the years and, in October 2022, the KCTC board of directors signed a letter of intent to acquire Farmtel. Changes and adjustments followed, with final approval given by the KCTC board in April and Farmtel’s board on May 12.
“The remaining time has been in the hands of the FCC and waiting on their approval,” explains KCTC on the company website.
KCTC said that the acquisition will offer existing customers faster speeds, better prices, enhanced service quality through the combination of staffs, and expanded package options.
KCTC dates back to 1905, when it was known as the Kalona Mutual Switchboard Company. Last year, the service provider began offering Gigabit-ready fiber to its entire Washington County footprint. The expanded company will keep the KCTC branding.
KCTC said that existing packages will not be changed “without customer contact,” but that some subscribers will have the opportunity to migrate to new plans in the future. Farmtel staff will become employees of KCTC.
“Farmtel is really a good fit for us in terms of both geography [and] in terms of the communities that are being served,” said KCTC Board Member Atlee Yoder in a video statement. “The leadership within KCTC provides tremendous service within the broader community, because they have a pulse on what is happening within the community because they live in the community.”
Jeremy Kuenster, also a board member, said that the two companies will be able to cross-train.
“We hope to do things on a much larger scale with the combination of the two companies, with the beautification of the towns and the ability to extend our fiber out and give customers the services and the quality of service they are going to enjoy,” Kuenster said. “We will have the ability to reach out further with our services into the Mount Pleasant market, perhaps.”
KCTC isn’t the only provider making moves on broadband in Iowa. Last month, for example, Mediacom Communications said that it had completed two projects that expanded fiber to Rutland and Williams, Iowa, rural communities near Fort Dodge.