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Producing Excellence

Steve Sackrider

Wamego, KS

Wamego Telecommunications Company

Type of Operation: Telecommunications

Size of Operation: 4,500 access lines

In Business Since: 1912

Farm Credit Partner: CoBank

Working with Farm Credit Since: 2000

Kansas-based Wamego Telecommunications Company, Inc. first began providing telephone service to rural customers in 1912. Over the last century, the independent telephone company has maintained a tradition of investing in new technology to better serve its customers.

Several years ago, WTC's leadership foresaw that high-speed internet would become a cornerstone of their business. The company built one of the first fiber-to-the-home networks in rural America, which today serves about half of WTC's service territory. But WTC wanted to finish what it started, and in 2010 the company approached CoBank for financing to complete its fiber-to-the-home network. Industry knowledge and a focus on WTC's financial needs made CoBank the natural choice, and the CoBank team completed a new term loan for WTC in just a few months.

Ultimately, WTC's management decided to postpone most of the fiber to the home buildout until the impact of FCC regulatory changes could be assessed and quantified. Now, having greater clarity into how regulatory changes will impact WTC, management is moving forward with the fiber to the home buildout. And, because of the flexibility built into CoBank's credit facility, the debt capital it needs to fund the buildout is still available.

“CoBank's ability to help us get the financing done quickly allowed us to focus on getting equipment in the ground and sped up our ability to get this project launched and delivered to our customers," WTC General Manager Steve Sackrider said.

“Rural telecommunications providers face a number of challenges from both competitors and regulators," says Andy Smith, Wamego's CoBank relationship manager. “WTC is prudently balancing the challenges while providing its customers with the most advanced telecommunications services available."

As the communications provider continues to work on its fiber-to-the-home network, WTC is way ahead of the game, both financially and technologically. “This is key to the future for us," Sackrider said. “When this project is complete, more of our rural customers will have access to services like high-speed internet and advanced cable TV."

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