Century Link, West River Telephone reach a unique service agreement for a few customers

May 31, 2018

Public Service Commissioners Brian Kroshus (l); chairman Randy Christmann; and Julie Fedorchak.
Credit Dave Thompson / Prairie Public

It's an unusual arrangement.

A private telephone company and a telephone co-op have reached an agreement to serve a handful of customers in rural areas near Mandan.

Century Link agreed to change its service boundaries from Mandan, North Dakota and Morristown, South Dakota.  That means West River Telephone will pick up 8 to 10 customers by expanding its St. Anthony and Elgin exchanges. The plan is contingent upon West River getting approval from the FCC for a “universal service” designation – meaning there would be a federal subsidy to serve those customers.

"It is not cost-effective for anyone to provide service to them for any reasonable price," said PSC Chairman Randy Christmann.

Christmann said West River is upgrading its system to fiber optics.

"If it doesn't have that universal service designation, West River can't afford to upgrade these customers to fiber," Christmann said.

Christmann was very complimentary to the two companies.

"It's a great example of two completely different companies working together and being willing to dio what it takes to bring better service to this handful of customers," Christmann said. "They have invested a lot of time and effort to craft this in a way that someone doesn't get left holding the bag. And they're trying their best to bring better service to those customers."