Shawnee Communications is proud to serve communities throughout Southern Illinois, providing telephone and Internet connectivity to thousands of families and businesses., we are a hometown company with a commitment to bringing current communications technology to our customers.
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The Shawnee Communications Story
In early 1948, the citizen-owned & operated Equality Telephone Company made the transition into a fully-fledged corporation. Over the next several years, advances in technology led the way for Equality Telephone to repair and upgrade much of their infrastructure. One of the key improvements allowed Equality Telephone to evolve from a 14-party operator-handled service to a single-party rotary-dial service.
Equality Telephone Company acquired Hardin County Telephone Company in 1966. Like Equality Telephone in the 1940’s, the newly acquired system was in need of facility repair and upgrades. Once infrastructure improvements were made to bring Hardin County Telephone on par with Equality Telephone, one last task remained: switching from aerial to buried cable. The transition to buried cable was a costly and complicated task due to the large amount of service areas that lie within the Shawnee National Forest.
Equality Telephone Company and Hardin County Telephone Company merged to form Shawnee Telephone Company in early 1985. The name Shawnee Telephone was chosen to pay homage to the beautiful natural wonders located in the Shawnee National Forest and to reflect the ownership’s deeply seeded local roots.
In 1995, Shawnee Telephone Company received FCC notification that local telephone companies would be allowed to enter the long distance market. The only FCC requirement was that the long distance services be controlled by a separate affiliated entity, so Shawnee Communications, Inc. and ShawneeLink Corporation were established. Shawnee Telephone Company and ShawneeLink became wholly owned subsidiaries of Shawnee Communications. However, Shawnee Communications and its subsidiaries remained locally owned and operated.
With long distance service available to the public, Shawnee Communications turned attention to the next technological trend: the Internet. In the spring of 1996, ShawneeLink Corp. began offering dial-up Internet access within the Shawnee Telephone service area. Early 1997 saw dial-up Internet access slowly spread outside of the Shawnee Telephone service area, and by the end of 1998, dial up access was being offered to more than 40 Southern Illinois communities.
ShawneeLink began providing High Speed DSL in over 20 Southern Illinois communities during 2003. With faster speeds and improved stability, DSL quickly became the medium of choice for Internet users. As technology grew, ShawneeLink was able to provide DSL access to qualifying areas in two separate regions. The first region includes towns as far west as Chester, Anna & Marissa, as far north as Sesser and Pinckneyville, as far east as Shawneetown and Rosiclare, and as far south as Brookport. The second region included locations as far north as Robinson and Newton, as far west as Flora, Fairfield and McLeansboro, as far east as Lawrenceville and Mt. Carmel, and as far south as Carmi and Norris City. ShawneeLink discontinued offering of area Internet services in January 2012.
Shawnee Telephone began laying the foundation for future technologies in 2005 with the upgrade to fiber optic cable. The process of burying the fiber optic lines is just as tedious a task as was the burial of telephone lines during the 1940’s and 60’s. However, the fiber network will improve telephone transmissions, solidify Internet speeds and be compatible with emerging technologies. A completion date has not been established although crews are working diligently to complete the network expansion.
In September 2008, Shawnee connected our first subscribers to our FTTH Network. Over the next six months, Shawnee converted over 400 subscribers in Simpson and hundreds of subscribers in the Leamington and “rural” Equality exchanges. By the end of 2008, Simpson and Leamington were our first two fully FTTH exchanges.
On July 8, 2010 Shawnee was awarded $7.35 million in grants and loans from the federal government and $1 million in state matching funds for its “Southern Illinois Sustainable Broadband Transformation” project that would build a sustainable broadband network to support additional economic development in Southern Illinois. The federal award, which was awarded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications Information Administration, was one of 66 funded nationwide, for a total of $7.2 billion. The state matching funds would come through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity. The project would see FTTH adoption in the exchanges Cave In Rock, Eddyville, Elizabethtown and Rosiclare, along with the township of Golconda, which is outside Shawnee’s traditional service territory.
In early August 2011, after many months of preparation, Shawnee began migrating the entire Cave In Rock (minus Boyd’s Addition) exchange to the FTTH network. Cave In Rock, which was the largest exchange in our stimulus project, encompassed over 500 subscribers. Over 95% of the subscribers were converted by mid-October and remaining work was completed in December 2011. Boyd’s Addition would be addressed at a later time.
In October 2011, we began moving our “in-town” subscribers in Elizabethtown to the FTTH network. The “in-town” Elizabethtown portion of our project saw over 150 subscribers moved to the FTTH network and since progress was swift, all available subscribers were converted in less than two months. Rural sections of Elizabethtown would be addressed at a later date.
In early November 2011, we began working on our “in-town” subscribers in Eddyville, which consists of approximately 150 subscribers. After a few short weeks of work, the project was 50% completed and by mid-December, all of the subscribers had been converted. Rural sections of Eddyville will be addressed at a later date.
In mid-November 2011, we targeted “in town” Rosiclare for the next phase of FTTH conversions. Over the next three months, Shawnee would connect over 350 subscribers to the FTTH Network. Rural sections of Rosiclare would be addressed at a later date.
In early December 2011, we began work in the township of Golconda, which is located outside the traditional Shawnee ILEC service territory. In past years, Shawnee was only able to offer Golconda residents with long distance service and wireless Internet access. The addition of FTTH Internet service was sorely needed in the previously unserved community. We began migrating our 23 existing Wireless subscribers to FTTH services and added over 100 new subscribers.
To fully complete the Cave In Rock exchange, Boyd’s Addition was targeted in late August 2012. Since the population of Boyd’s Addition is quite small, the nearly 40 subscribers were able to be converted in a few shorts weeks. Once completed, Cave In Rock became our 3rd fully FTTH exchange.
In early November 2012, “in-town” subscribers in Equality began getting connected to the Network. By the end of the year, over 250 subscribers had been moved to FTTH services, making Equality our 4rd fully FTTH exchange.
While we were waiting on the last few Equality subscribers to be converted in December 2012, we got a head start of on the first of three sections of the Hicks exchange. This project would benefit everyone the intersection of RT 34 and Karbers Ridge Blacktop South to the intersection of RT 34 and Humm’s Wye. From late December to mid-February, over 120 subscribers were brought onto the FTTH Network. In June 2013 we started work on the 2nd of 3 sections of the Hicks exchange. This project would benefit over 60 subscribers along the Karbers Ridge Blacktop. The remaining section of the Hicks exchange is still being planned.
In mid-September 2013, Shawnee began finishing up the “rural” section of Rosiclare. By the end of the year, over 200 subscribers were migrated to the FTTH Network, making Rosiclare our 5th fully FTTH exchange.
In mid-December 2013, Shawnee began working on completing the Elizabethtown exchange. This portion of the Elizabethtown exchange is rural and is mainly accessed by a variety of gravel roads and contains roughly 175 subscribers. Customer cutovers we completed in mid-February, making Elizabethtown our 6th fully FTTH exchange.
On December 2nd, 2014, construction crews started the process of expanding the FTTH plant to the remaining “rural” subscribers in the Eddyville exchange. The construction phase was completed in less than four months and once completed, Shawnee began the process of converting roughly 350 “rural” Eddyville subscribers to the FTTH platform, making Eddyville our 7th fully FTTH exchange.
In the summer of 2015, construction crews began work on the remaining portions of the Hicks exchange, which consists of roughly 100 subscribers. The construction phase of this project went surprisingly smooth considering, the large, extremely rocky terrain was scarcely populated and the dangerous presence of semi-trucks along RT. 34, where much of the main fiber would be buried. Crews are currently completing splicing and testing and once completed, the plant will be turned over to Shawnee for customer cutovers.
In early 2016, weather permitting, work is slated to begin work on Shawnee’s lone remaining copper exchange: Renshaw, which contains roughly 130 subscribers.
- Shawnee Communications will develop, service, and maintain modern communications technology for residents and businesses in rural communities in Southern Illinois.
- We will build a telephone and Internet connectivity infrastructure to bring our customers the best, most reliable technology at realistic costs.
- The activities of Shawnee Communications will be beneficial to our communities. In addition to providing improved communications technologies, we will support community organizations that enhance the quality of life in our business areas.
Shawnee Communications is a proud corporate citizen of Southern Illinois. We’re proud to contribute to the economic welfare of our communities by improving communications infrastructure and technology as well as providing well paying jobs to people throughout the region.
As citizens of the communities of Southern Illinois, Shawnee Communications and our subsidiary companies strive to make positive contributions to the welfare of the region. So we share in the vision of growth and prosperity for all. We participate in community projects and donate to organizations that benefit our communities.
In addition, individuals in our companies actively participate in organizations that benefit by the unique talents and abilities they have to offer. We all understand that the quality of life in our community is directly related to the effort we are willing to give to make improvements or otherwise provide a positive influence.
At Shawnee, We’re Good Sports, Too!
Shawnee Communications is proud to support local high school sports programs in the communities served by Shawnee Telephone. For the past several years, Shawnee Telephone has donated to the Hardin County High School Cougars, the Pope County High School Pirates, and the Gallatin County High School Hawks.
Shawnee Telephone‘s donations provide the high school sports programs at each of the schools with financial flexibility. Since 2006 Shawnee’s gift provided new basketball shoes for the boys’ and girls’ basketball teams at each of the high schools. We’re proud to be able to make these donations, and we are able to do so because of our customers in these communities who have made it possible for us to give back to our area neighbors.
So when you are cheering on your school’s sports teams, know that your friends at Shawnee Communications are there wishing success for those hard-working athletes!
At Shawnee Communications and our subsidiaries, we consider our employees the pillars of our organization. Our people, like their Southern Illinois neighbors, are woven with strong character, deep ethics, and unlimited drive, and every employee strives for continued individual improvement day to day. The level of loyalty and integrity displayed by our staff is reflected in the quality of service provided to our customers.
Although individuals on the Shawnee Communications staff come to us with diverse technical, business, and clerical backgrounds, they display a unique cohesiveness and cooperation working between departments. This spirit of unity has proven invaluable during project coordination and planning. The ability and willingness to operate as a team has facilitated every aspect of our expansion and growth and will continue to do so well into the future.