West Texas Rural Telephone Cooperative was established in 1950 to provide telephone service to the rural areas in Deaf Smith, Parmer and portions of Castro and Bailey counties after the large commercial telephone companies declined to offer service to the rural areas because of the capital investment required to serve such sparsely populated rural communities, farms and ranches.
Like most telephone cooperatives in the country, WTRT traces its roots to the passage of the Rural Telephone Act in 1949. Under the RTA, low-interest loans from the Rural Electrification Administration (now the Rural Utilities Service under the USDA) that had helped to illuminate and power rural America could be applied toward providing telephone service.
Immediately after passage of the Rural Telephone Act in 1949, Deaf Smith County Rural Electric Cooperative (now Deaf Smith Electric Cooperative), applied for a telephone cooperative to be headquartered at Hereford. Deaf Smith County REC had already worked to install electrical service for rural Deaf Smith, Castro, and Parmer Counties in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s.
A meeting to form WTRT was held December 12, 1949 in Hereford and shortly after WTRT was incorporated, the Texas Legislature passed an enabling act for the Cooperative, setting the wheels in motion toward creating a major network of rural telecommunications facilities.
In 1962, a move was made to separate WTRT from the electric cooperative to provide better telephone service. WTRT set off on its own just as a boom in the region’s cattle feeding industry prompted the need for WTRT to upgrade its network to single party service. Further improvements were made in the 1970s, when WTRT circumvented the problems with overhead wire by burying cable.
In 1982, WTRT formed a non-regulated subsidiary, WT Services. All regulated services remained under WTRT. WT Services formed Hereford Long Distance, Radio Communications (two-way radio) and later, a computer division to provide sales, service and programming of computers and Internet Services to our service area. After the Telecom Act of 1996 was implemented, WT Services expanded its service offering to provide local and long distance voice communications, internet and cable services to Friona and Bovina and later, Hereford.
Today, WTRT serves an area bounded roughly by Interstate 40 to the north, the Randall County line to the east, the New Mexico state line to the west. It serves Deaf Smith and Parmer counties and portions of Castro and Bailey counties.
WTRT has a rich history of installing state-of-the-art facilities and technologies and is continuing to do so today. WTRT is working to bring the benefits of greater bandwidth to its members, allowing them to utilize the technologies available now and in the future.