Member Profile: Ritter Communications

President: Alan Morse

Access lines in Tennessee: 13,000

Revenue-generating units companywide: 70,000

Seven exchanges in Tennessee: Shelby, Tipton and Fayette and Haywood counties

Employees: 52 in Tennessee; 320 companywide

Ritter Communications, a company with 112 years of history in Arkansas, ventured into Tennessee in 2012 with the acquisitions of Millington Telephone and Millington Cable. But the ties between the companies began much earlier, says Bob Mouser, vice president of business development.

Louis Ritter Jr., of Ritter Communications, and Babe Howard, of Millington Telephone, represented two of the 12 telephone companies that met in Memphis in 1963 to discuss dissatisfaction with the Federal Communication Commission’s toll settlements, which determined the way telephone companies were compensated for handling automated and operator-assisted calls.

The result of that meeting was the Memphis Plan, which was the foundation for a new national group — Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telephone Companies, known as OPASTCO. In 2013, OPASTCO merged with the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association to become NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association.

Now, Ritter Communications, based in Jonesboro, Arkansas, is an active member of Independent Telephone and Telecommunications Alliance and the Tennessee Telecommunications Association.

At Ritter Communications, it’s almost like having four companies in one, Mouser says.
“Internally, we refer to service in our traditional ILEC and HFC cable areas as ‘hometown services,’ and we’re like everyone else, pushing out faster and faster broadband speeds to these communities,” Mouser says.

The push involves a variety of strategies, including fiber-to-the-home to new residential developments, fiber-to-the-premises to business and school locations, additional fiber-fed DSLAMs and node splitting.

Ritter has the infrastructure in place to provide 10 Gbps service at the Memphis Regional Megasite, a 4,100-acre industrial site in Stanton, Tennessee, on Interstate 40. It represents a significant economic and community development  in West Tennessee. The gig service is a valued industrial recruitment tool for the site, Mouser says.

Mouser says about 80 percent of the homes passed by Ritter’s networks in West Tennessee are capable of receiving internet download speeds greater than 100 Mbps.

“It’s been amazing to watch the capacity requirements of the internet backbone grow over these last few years, and in West Tennessee that is now over 20 Gbps,” he says.

For backup and redundancy, the systems in both Tennessee and Arkansas are meshed.

Components such as switching, networking and video content are connected through diverse fiber paths, Mouser says.

With a recent conversion, all operations in Arkansas and Tennessee are now on the same platform for operations support systems, he says.

The results are greater efficiencies and higher customer satisfaction.

Ritter also has an ‘enterprise services,’ which is fiber expansion across Arkansas that enables business services to selected cities.

In addition, the company provides fiber-based services to other carriers, resellers and statewide networks, as well as education and health care networks.

Ritter offers local channels with content for school and community events. Tubetownonline is one of the most popular features for customers.

Ritter Communications is focused on providing exceptional, personalized customer service, bringing advanced services and caring for the communities the company serves, says Casey Pearce, communications specialist at Ritter Communications.

In Tennessee, Ritter supports festivals and celebrations in all the communities they serve.

Ritter recently partnered with Tipton County Schools to provide a $24,300 grant from the Ernest and Anna Ritter Family Endowment fund to purchase 45 computers that students are using to fill out Federal Application for Free Student Aid and Tennessee Promise tuition assistance program applications that are only available online.

“We are involved in the schools and love giving back to the community,” Pearce says.