On September 6, 1902 twenty four men from the New Hope community gathered to begin
formation of The New Hope Switchboard Association.
From 1902 until 1963 calls were switched by a local operator. A crank on the customers
phone was turned to alert the operator that someone on that line wished to place a call. The operator would connect
to the other party using a patch cord and ring the line.
In 1963 a mechanical switching system was put into service. This system, although
upgraded and added to many times, remained in service until January 1989. There were literally hundreds of
motorswitches (see picture) in the system by 1988. It took virtually the whole floor space of the 1000' square
foot central office building to accomodate this system. Under absolute ideal conditions there could be no more than
24 simultaneous calls in progress.
Around 1980 the company decided an underground cable plant would provide much better
service. Although it took a tremendous amount of time and effort, we now have over 90% of our outside plant
underground. Lightning storms, snow and ice storms or inclement weather in general presents little trouble to the
company compared to the times when the plant was mostly aerial.
Late in 1988 a state-of-the-art digital switching system was installed. It was placed
into service in January 1989 after thorough testing. What used to take up the majority of the 1,000 square foot
office was now contained in about 32 square foot of floor space. Since then many upgrades and additions have been
performed but the total switching system is still much smaller than the old mechanical switch.
Around 1990 New Hope Switchboard Association became a minority partner in the local
cellular telephone company known as CFW Cellular. This was a wireless analog system which was the forerunner to
what we now call cell phones or cell service. We sold our interests in CFW Cellular in 1997 to allow entry into
a partnership providing new digital technology in the wireless market.
Formed in 1997 The Virginia PCS Alliance (Ntelos Wireless) offered many local telephone
companies the option to join the consortium. About seven companies accepted this offer and became a percentage owner
based on their contribution. Since the beginning there were other companies that joined the Alliance along
with different investors. However, only four of the original members remained until the acquisition of Ntelos
by Shentel. They were: Ntelos, Hardy Telephone, MGW Telephone and New Hope Telephone Cooperative.
In 2003 we started venturing outside plain old telephone service by offering dial up
Internet. Contracting with a telephone cooperative in Virginia, we were able to keep startup costs to a minimum.
By 2005 it was apparent that dial up service would not satisfy the majority of our customer base so we invested
in infrastructure to provide higher speed service through DSL (Digital Subscriber Line). This proved to be an
instant success as the take rate was much, much higher than expected.
One of the most important changes the company has ever made was in 2005. For 103 years
the company had been operating as an "Association". Although similar to a cooperative there are some
major differences. The company took the legal steps to become incorporated as a Cooperative and on April 1, 2005
this was attained leaving the company as a much more sound and secure organization. Having achieved this status we
began paying out "capital credits" and as of 2013 we have now returned over $1,000,000 to our patrons.
To advance the DSL service offerings the company decided to make a "rapid
deployment upgrade" in 2011. The board approved a $300,000 investment in both inside and outside plant
equipment and to have the upgrade finished within one year's time. The overall project was finished on time
and in 2012 we were able to offer much higher speeds to our customers.
As you can see in this brief history of the company many changes have taken place in
the 110 plus years of its existence. One area that has always been in the forefront of our philosophy is our
dedication to the owners of the cooperative -- its members. The importance of this dedication is greater now than
ever before as technology changes and people's communication needs are evolving. Rest assured that we are
committed to serving New Hope and surrounding communities to the highest level we can.