Telephone company updates

Published 9:25 am Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Manchester-Hartland Telephone Company is installing fiber-optic cables like these shown for its customers. Fiber-optic cable will replace copper cables by the end of the year. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

MANCHESTER — This small town’s telephone company is currently in the process of updating old equipment to better serve its customers.

The Manchester-Hartland Telephone Company serves more than 500 customers north of Albert Lea in Freeborn County. The company is in the process of replacing the underground copper wire they currently use with 122 miles of fiber-optic cable.

Many companies are making the same change to comply with the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The purpose of this law will be to have high-speed internet access in rural areas among other things, according to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s website.

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“It’s just to give better service,” Manager Omer Emstad said. “It will make DSL much faster and is much better for longer distances.”

As well as making existing services better, there will be more options of services in the future. Emstad said the company hopes to have video services for customer’s TV someday, which would be somewhat like cable TV. Emstad said the company hopes to have all customers using the fiber-optic cable by the end of the year.

“It should make it a lot more reliable,” Emstad said.

The telephone company is using the contractor Anderson Underground, based out of northwestern Minnesota. Employees at the telephone company will have to complete training with the installers to learn how to use new equipment for the change.

Emstad also said there should be no rate increases because of the change. New services someday like video services will have an extra charge if customers choose to add them to their account.