Totelcom upgrading networks to fill bandwidth demands

In an increasingly interconnected world, Totelcom is rapidly expanding its fiber network footprint to meet community demands for high-speed Internet and broadband.

“It’s all about bandwidth being available for the customers,’’ said Toney Prather, president of Totelcom. “The speeds we’re delivering now – I wouldn’t have imagined it 10 years ago. We’re becoming more interconnected. Everything in our house is tied to the Internet now.”

Totelcom , based in De Leon, serves a local service territory spanning 1,182 square miles covering primarily Comanche County in Central Texas. With 40 employees, Totelcom provides voice and high-speed Internet services to consumers, schools and hospitals as well as wind, energy and agricultural customers in the largely rural area. Totelcom’s competitive local exchange carrier affiliate provides voice and high-speed data services to area businesses and institutions, including Comanche and Stephenville.

“We have less than three customers per square mile,’’ Prather said.

Totelcom is family-owned and operated by Prather, who has worked for the company since 1979, and his wife Terrie. In 2010, their daughter Jennifer Otwell left a Dallas public accounting firm to join the company, making it a multigenerational family business. Toney and Terrie’s son, Michael Prather, in 2012 returned to Texas from a New Mexico telecommunications company to join the family business.

Totelcom operates a network that mixes copper, fiber and fixed wireless. Totelcom has been rapidly investing in upgrading its networks and is expected to spend about $18 million by 2022 in deploying fiber and expanding its network capacity with speeds of 1 gigabit per second.

“Gone are the days people are worried about a voice call,’’ Prather said. “As capital is available we’re putting it back into the network. We just keep expanding our fiber footprint deeper into our network. It’s going to be a full-time job for a long time.’’

“It’s not about phone lines anymore. It’s about data,’’ Prather said.

Otwell, vice president and general manager of Totelcom, said the company deploys fixed wireless on the edges of the network to expand its reach and make sure the company is providing customers “the best experience we possibly can.’’

Totelcom has deployed fiber technologies to support schools, hospitals and businesses.
Totelcom provides a fiber-based high-speed data backbone for Tarleton State University in Stephenville that supports everything from the administration to student services. In addition, the network enables Tarleton to connect with sister campuses within the Texas A&M University System.

In addition, Totelcom deployed seven miles of fiber to support Logan’s Gap Wind facility, which contains 87 wind turbines, Otwell said.

Totelcom provides high-speed data services to Comanche County Medical Center, a largely rural hospital that is located between DeLeon and Comanche. Totelcom deployed about eight miles of fiber to connect the hospital, which provides vital health care services to area residents, including a large elderly population. The fiber-based high-speed data services support operations as well as CT scans, mobile MRIs and area clinics as well as telehealth and telemedicine services.

Totelcom in 2017 was recognized by NTCA – the Rural Broadband Association – as a “Smart Rural Community.’’ NTCA recognized Totelcom for advanced communication services and collaboration with local leaders as keys to its success.

Prather said many consumer customers have “cut the cord’’ and are giving up voice service in favor for data-only high-speed Internet access. With more and more consumers working from home and receiving entertainment online, Prather predicts consumer demand for high-speed Internet will continue to grow.

“It’s a constant demand for bandwidth,’’ Prather said.

Totelcom and its employees are active in local communities and the company supports fundraisers, events and other community projects. The majority of Totelcom employees grew up the area.

“We remain close to our community,’’ Prather said. “The thing we are really the most proud of is we feel we are a vital, important part of this community.”

See our Member Spotlight