November 17, 2017—John Klatt, President/CEO of Lakeland Communications Group, LLC (Milltown, Wis.), was elected President of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, a national trade association representing nearly 850 independent, community-based telecommunications companies, during the association’s fall board meeting.
Klatt has served on the NTCA Board of Directors for three years. With nearly 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry, he has served on many industry boards including the Wisconsin State Telephone Association (WSTA), the Wisconsin Locally Owned Telephone Association, NTCA Futures Committee and NTCA Dues Task Force. Klatt has also received a number of awards, including the NTCA Management Achievement Award. Lakeland Communications Group, where Klatt has been at the helm for 20 years, is a nationally recognized Smart Rural Community and an NTCA Gig-Capable Provider.
In 2017 Lakeland was excited to receive the Gig Certified award from NTCA. Lakeland is proud of its infrastructure and the ability to meet customer needs.
March 6, 2017 – Lakeland Communications was today recognized by NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, the premier association representing nearly 900 independent, community-based telecommunications companies that are leading innovation in rural and small-town America, as a Certified Gig-Capable Provider for delivering gigabit broadband speeds and enabling technological innovation in its communities.
As a Certified Gig-Capable Provider, Lakeland Communications joins a national campaign to build awareness and industry recognition of community-based telecom providers that have built communications networks capable of delivering Internet speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which is 100 times faster than those currently available in many U.S. households.
2015 Lakeland Communications was honored to receive the Smart Rural Community award.
2011 – 2012 Lakeland completed fiber construction to the Villages of Luck and Milltown in 2011. This brings fiber to the home to all residences and businesses. With fiber to the home, customers are privy to the best communications anywhere. They now enjoy the amazing broadband speeds; all anyone could need for upload or download.
2010 Lakeland completed its fiber to the node project. This brought fiber optics to nodes throughout our service area to bring high speed services to all customers. As Lakeland concluded this project we also installed a new switch to handle the new and upcoming technologies. It is a Meta switch and will allow for all services now and in the future. One new featured service Lakeland is offering is ICONTROL. A customer has control of all of their communications with one service. Icontrol manages all communications. One voice mail for the landline, the cellular phone and business. The ability to pick up messages anywhere anytime by using a computer, the phone or smartphone. Lakeland sees this as an exciting service for the future. It will simplify communications for our customers.
2009 Lakeland added to its video offering by beginning with a new platform Video over IP. Called LCTV, this product is a new and exciting venture to help customers outside of the Village locations that have not been able to get cable TV. Lakeland brings this technology over IP or Internet Protocol. The customer enjoys a robust channel lineup to see all of their favorite shows.
March 4th, 2002 marked the first day of a new endeavor for Lakeland Communications. Lakeland Communication’s subsidiary Lakeland Telecom, opened telephone service up in the Balsam Lake and Centuria communities. Lakeland Telecom offers local telephone service, long distance, Internet, DSL, Paging, Cellular and Cable TV as a competitive local exchange carrier (CLEC). The year 2003 – 2004 brought about new construction for Lakeland Communications with the headquarters building being relocated in Milltown at 825 Innovation Avenue. The 12,000 square foot building brought new room for many areas the current facilities had been lacking. The new building sits atop a hill south of Milltown in an excellent location for all customers in the area. Lakeland is very proud of this addition both for the company and the community. The company relocated the Milltown Office to its new location on June 1, of 2004. As of 2005 Lakeland employs 20 full time individuals. Lakeland is fortunate to have two office locations in Luck and Milltown to help all customers conveniently.
The early thirties brought rate and wage reductions of 20%. Saturday, October 22, 1938 was to be long remembered, as disaster struck all the pole lines going east and west. Some eighteen inches of very wet, heavy snow had fallen during the night, coating every wire, cross-arm and pole. A brisk wind toppled the heavily laden poles unto the highways, leaving a mass of broken poles and wires. Snowplows became entangled in the fallen wires. Every available man was hired to pull poles and wire off all highways. It took two months to get the whole plant in working order again. The sixties found the company expanding new dial service throughout the exchange. A new central office was built in Luck and the other building and equipment was moved to Cushing to begin their telephone operation. The seventies brought the desire to provide one-party service to all subscribers. Cellular service began the summer of 1990. Luck Telephone partnered with Cellulink Cellular Service. In 1992 Luck Telephone became instrumental in helping the Luck Fire Department and the Luck Medical Clinic secure REA loans. In July of 1995 Luck Telephone Company and Milltown Telephone Company along with four other independent telephone companies purchased Vision Communications Cable TV. Local Internet Access became a reality in 1995. Luck Telephone merged with Milltown Telephone in January of 1997. Luck Telephone’s general manager, John Klatt, was appointed President and CEO of the new organization, Lakeland Communications. January 1, 2002 Lakeland Communication’s subsidiary Lakeland Telecom, purchased several properties from Vision Communications. Lakeland Telecom will now offer the cable TV services to the communities of Luck, Milltown, Balsam Lake, Centuria, Frederic and Cushing.
LUCK TELEPHONE COMPANY
On March 7, 1908 a meeting was held at the Laketown Town Hall to organize the Luck Telephone Company, known then as the Equity Telephone Company. A committee was appointed. They found poles were too expensive to buy, so it was decided members would cut tamarack and white oak poles from their own swamps and woods. They were paid fifty cents for each twenty-foot pole. Rural lines supplied multi-party service, with ten to twenty-three telephones on each line. Code rings were assigned to each patron, such as two short and two long rings, or three long rings and one short ring. These were magneto, or hand cranked telephones. Any subscriber on the line could listen to all conversations, hence the name “rubber-neck” was applied to all noisy listeners. Six long rings meant “fire” and everyone rushed to the phone to find out whose house or barn was burning. At west Luck, the company secured an option on a building owned by Carl Peterson. It was later purchased, and remains to be the site of the company today. Telephone rates in 1920 were set at $2.00 per month for party lines, with a 25 cent discount if paid in advance.
MILLTOWN MUTUAL TELEPHONE COMPANY
On April 22, 1908 a committee was formed to see what interest there would be in forming a telephone company in Milltown. After receiving a positive response from the area individuals, a board of directors was chosen. In August of 1908 a room at Jens Laursen’s residence was rented for a central office. Mr. Laursen received $10.00 per month. Jennie Nelson was hired as the first telephone operator at $25.00 per month. Jennie worked 12 1/2 hours each day. John Aleve was hired to work on construction of the plant. He was paid $1.50 per day. He was to furnish his horse for all work that needed to be completed. Phone service rates were set at $1.00 for residence and $2.00 for business service. 1913 brought construction of the Milltown Telephone Company building. A lot was purchased from John Flink for $185.00. The building was 20×30 feet. The labor for new areas was taken care of by subscribers that did not have their bills paid. The limited time to talk on the lines was set at 5 minutes per call. 1969 was the year Milltown Telephone Company began offering radio paging service which continues today.
The remaining years have brought about much growth. Lines were changed from crank telephones to dial telephones. Telephone cable has gone from the telephone pole to being buried underground. In the past years the telephone industry has begun burying fiber optic cable. The 911 service was installed in June of 1993. Local Internet access was implemented in 1995. Milltown Mutual Telephone Company continues to prosper and grow as its founders had envisioned back in 1908. It is now part of Lakeland Communications which brought security for the company in the competitive environment. Milltown Telephone has been a long supporter of the school and community. Stakeholders can rest assured that they will have local support and service from their local company for years to come.