Newspaper reports say that as early as the late 1800s a telephone company was serving the communities of Calamus, Toronto and Wheatland. Formally incorporated in the state of Iowa in 1907, Farmers’ and Business Men’s Mutual Telephone Company served customers in western Clinton County. Throughout the years the “mutual” was eventually dropped and in 2007 the name was officially changed to F&B Communications, Inc.
The two towns first operated with a magneto-type crank system until a modernization program was started in the 1950s. In 1959, Stromberg-Carlson switching equipment was installed. Most of the subscribers were connected on party lines, up to ten on a line. In 1968, buried cables were installed in the rural areas to replace the overhead runs, making F&B the first company in the nation to have an all-pressurized underground system. At that time all subscribers had one-party service and 1+ direct dialing for long distance calls.
In 1983, the company buried telephone cables and TV coax cables to all homes in the city limits of Calamus and Wheatland. Subscribers now had the option of receiving local network TV stations and an increasing number of cable networks.
Fiber optic cable was buried between Calamus and Wheatland in 1989 opening a window of opportunity. In the 1990’s the company installed a major fiber route to carry telephone toll traffic from Wheatland to Tipton and interconnect other independent telephone companies in north-central Iowa and the Iowa Communications Network. In 1991, F&B Communications acquired cable TV systems in the communities of Delmar and Bennett.
F&B began providing sales and service for DirecTV in 1994 to customers in rural Clinton County. This service offering was discontinued in 2004. Also in 1994, a cable TV system was built in the community of Lowden. In the mid 90s, F&B began offering Internet services. The business office in Wheatland underwent major renovations in 1995. In 1999, F&B Communications began providing competitive telephone service to the communities of Bennett, Lowden and Delmar.
The company launched high-speed DSL Internet access in 2001. In 2002, F&B began providing Internet services under the name FBCom.net through the installation of a redundant server system. The most recent enhancement to the F&B service offering is the implementation of a new digital video system in 2004 that provides customers an enhanced channel lineup and numerous interactive on-screen features. In 2006, a new business venture, Technology Solutions, began to provide computer sales and service to customers.
F&B is also a partner in Wapsi Wireless, which was formed to bring i wireless PCS services to customers in Clinton and Jackson counties.
The days of the switchboard operator and telephone poles are long gone. But the company’s same quality customer service still exists today. F&B is committed to meeting and exceeding the communications needs of its customers by leading the way through the deployment of innovative products and services.