Telephone service started in
Prattsburgh in 1896. Like a lot of telephone companies, it started
with a single line. From there it grew into a corporation.
The first name was Prattsburgh Home Telephone
Company, which was incorporated in 1919, and then sold in 1920 by
Frank Eels for $3200. The directors and officers at that time were
Addison Wood, Charles E. Stone, Blaine E. Shaw, Chauncey P. Smith,
J. B. Merritt, Frank Eels and James Flaherty. The company was later
sold to Frank and Ruby Wheelock who ran the company until 1943 when
it was acquired by Harold and Francis Putnam.
In 1946, the company was purchased by Herman
and Ann Wagner. From then until now the company has grown into the
corporation that it is today. Part of the growth came through the
acquisition of other telephone companies. Those acquisitions were:
- 1953- The Home Telephone Company of Hector
- 1953- Caywood, Lodi and Valois Telephone Company
- 1957- Hector, Logan and Burdett Telephone Company
- 1959- East Pembroke Telephone Company
- 1973- Odessa Telephone Company
In addition to the acquisitions in New York
State, in 1952 Herman Wagner crossed the border into Pennsylvania
and purchased what is known today as North Penn Telephone Company.
In 1960, the company name was changed to its
present one: Empire Telephone Corporation.
The company’s first dial service was for
Prattsburgh subscribers in 1948 - 1949. Thereafter, all remaining
exchanges were converted to dial service, ending with the East Pembroke
exchange in 1960.
Direct distance dialing service was offered
by Empire in 1968, and the following year construction started on
mobile telephone system.
Given advancements in communication technology
and the company’s ambitious growth, Empire entered the Digital
era in 1984 when the first digital switch was put into service.
In 1994, Empire Telephone Corporation was the
first independent telephone company in the state to interface with
NYNEX via an OC-03 SONET (Synchronous Optical Network). SONET’s
fiber interface is protected by a ring topology — eliminates
the possibility of being isolated from the network. The system was
upgraded to an OC-48 in 2003.
Approaching 2004, Empire Telephone Corporation
had nearly 8400 access lines, all 100% digital. (In 2002, we began
offering DSL to about 90% of our customers).
Wherever possible Empire buries it’s outside
plant cable. To date, 80% of the route miles of cable route is buried
construction. Empire has over 65 miles of fiber cable in place as
well as 843 miles of cooper in use. The six exchanges that Empire
has today covers over 320 square miles of service territory.
Current officers are Robert H. Wagner - President,
Brian Wagner - Executive Vice President, Brian Ketchum - Vice President
and Thomas Prestigiacomo - Secretary/Treasurer. Corporate business office
is located in Prattsburgh, NY.