Moapa Valley Telephone Company was incorporated on April 6, 1909, when the Articles of Incorporation were filed with the Lincoln County Clerk. (Shortly thereafter, Clark County was formed out of the larger Lincoln County and today, Moapa Valley is part of Clark County.) The original stockholders’ names read like a “who’s who” of the early pioneers. Names like Samuel H. Wells, M.W. Gibson, Joseph F. Perkins, Brig Whitmore, U.V. Perkins, W.L. Jones, and W.C. Bowman were just a few of those appearing on that document.
The early lines consisted of single wires run through the mesquite trees and connected to a ten line Western Electric switchboard with bells for each line. This magneto switchboard was located in the S.R. Whitehead store located behind his home, near the Moapa Valley Federal Credit Union Overton office today. Mr. Whitehead’s daughters operated the switchboard.
Telephone poles of native cedar, about 15 to 20 feet in length with large, knotty stubs, were hauled in wagons from Sheep Mountain. Wire, three to six feet long crossarms, braces, and insulators were shipped by rail to Moapa. The lines that went up were single wire, grounded. Not until Boulder Dam power was brought into Moapa Valley in the 1930’s, was it necessary to change to a two wire system.
The service area consisted of St. Thomas, Kaolin, Overton, Logan (now Logandale), and Hupton (now Glendale), and Moapa. The Rio Virgin Telephone Company had a line from Mesquite to Moapa and one on the Moapa Indian Reservation. Moapa had a telegraph line operated by the railroad which gave telegraph service to both the Virgin and Moapa Valleys, their only communication access to the outside world. Later, the Rio Virgin Telephone Company sold their Glendale to Moapa lines and then their Indian Reservation line to the Moapa Valley Telephone Company. The connection to Overton was established and for a number of years service was maintained between the two valleys. The connection to St. George, Utah, gave access to the rest of the world, but it was almost impossible to communicate long distances without someone having to repeat the message along the route.
About 1916, the Western Electric switchboard was moved from the Whitehead Store to the Beal Lyon Drug Store when Warren H. Lyon became the manager of the Telephone Company. The board was place in the rear of the store and local high school girls were called in to operate it.
Warren H. Lyon began to acquire stock in the company in January of 1924. He amassed much of his stock in payment for goods or loans over the years, eventually becoming President of the Moapa Valley Telephone Company. At this time, his son, W. Mack Lyon, was five years old. Mack remembers trying to take the parts from unused phones to make a system of his own. Wires were attached to the magneto generators and playmates were invited to take hold of the wires as he turned the crank. This was a shocking experience for them, to say the least. By the time he was twelve years old, Mack was doing service calls and patrolling the lines in a horse-drawn buggy. He would take the local railroad motor car to go to Moapa to replace batteries in the telephones. Mack wasn’t the only person that kept the business running smoothly. Early outside plant workers were Crayton Johnson and William Dotson.
Long distance service was established to Las Vegas in 1934, still using the ten line board. One line became the long distance circuit and the other nine lines continued to serve 8-12 customers each.
In 1935, a toll line was built into Las Vegas under the newly-constructed Bell Telephone Company of Nevada lines. Less than ten calls a day was the average activity at that time. Nineteen thirty-eight saw a replacement of the old ten line board with a new, thirty line magneto switchboard. The assets of the company were about $10,000. Operating revenues from toll and local service amounted to $2,500 per annum.
In 1941 the switchboard was moved to Mack Lyon’s home on Andersen Street in Overton, next door to the office of Moapa Valley Telephone Company today. Six years later it was partially replaced with two dial (Kellogg Relaymatic) switchboards with one in Overton (50 lines) and the other in Logandale (30 lines). This was the first independent telephone company dial system installed in Nevada. Moapa Valley was the third area in the state with dial service, the others being Reno (Bell Telephone Company of Nevada) and the government owned Boulder Dam system.
At the end of 1947 there were 140 subscribers in the Overton exchange and 60 in the Logandale exchange. There were 15 telephones at Moapa and Glendale that were still being served from the 30 line magneto board. Three trunk circuits from the switchboard sent calls to Las Vegas and all subscribers had to call a local operator for long distance service. Operating revenues had now climbed to $12,000 and plant investment was up to $22,000.
The dial equipment continued to serve as the primary switching equipment until 1959 with the old magneto switchboard in Mack’s home still providing long distance and operator services. At this time the switching equipment was consolidated into a new building in Overton and Motorswitch step-by-step equipment was installed. Old telephone technicians claimed that they could determine the health of the office by listening to these motor switches as they turned in correspondence to the digits dialed by the customer. The old open aerial wire (you can still see open aerial wire in use if you look along railroad lines) was reinforced with aerial cable. Private line service became available thanks to the expanded cable plant and switching equipment. These improvements were accomplished with a loan of $105,000 from the Rural Electrification Administration. The total plant assets increased to $176,000 and annual operating revenues were at $25,000 with 334 stations in service.
Operator and long distance service continued to be provided through the magneto switchboard until 1965 when Direct Distance Dialing (DDD) became available. The old switchboard was retired with operator service being provided by Central Telephone Company in Las Vegas. In 1965, with the construction of Reid Gardner Plant in Moapa by Nevada Power Company, another exchange with Motorswitch equipment was installed in the Glendale Area (864) and the seven digit dialing plan added the 397 prefix to Overton. The open wire long distance lines were replaced with microwave circuits to the Glendale Exchange. Total stations had grown to 499 with annual operating revenues of $56,000 and total plant investment of $379,000.
In 1967 the number of company employees increased to three with Calvert Lyon now working with his parents, Dorothy and Mack. Billing services were contracted with the Central Telephone Company in Las Vegas. Nineteen seventy annual revenues were $90,000 with over 800 total stations in service.
An additional exchange was added in the Upper Muddy (865) in 1972 which included the Warm Springs area and the Moapa River Indian Reservation. Switching equipment in Overton was replaced with an electronically-controlled crosspoint (Siemens CP-240) in 1975. Buried cable became the norm with new additions replacing and reinforcing much of the aerial plant. The Motorswitch equipment which had served Overton-Logandale for sixteen years was not retired but moved to the Lake Mead/Blue Point Spring area to create a new exchange (394) to accommodate the growth in that area. Calvert Lyon succeeded his father as President and General Manager of the company when Mack and Dorothy retired in 1975. Total employees numbered four at this time.
Digital transmission (PCM) equipment for trunks between exchanges replaced the open wire carrier equipment and greatly improved transmission quality and reliability. It removed from our vocabulary the phrase, “it sounds like a long distance call.” In the early 1980s, containerized crossbar switching equipment was purchased from the Central Telephone Company and installed in the Glendale area to replace the Motorswitch and to accommodate the high traffic demands created by the construction of the Nevada Power Company’s Reid Gardner unit #4. An additional unit was installed in Logandale creating the 398 exchange and eliminating the need for all Logandale customers to get their “dial tone” from the 397 exchange in Overton. This relieved the demand for additional cable plant to handle the area’s growth.
In May of 1985, Moapa Valley Telephone Company became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Moapa Valley Telecommunications, Inc. and entered into a partnership with Rio Virgin Telephone in Mesquite and Centel (now Sprint) in Las Vegas to provide cellular telephone service in Clark County.
Two years later, Moapa Valley Telephone Company entered the world of digital switching equipment with the installations of Northern Telecom DMS 10 switches in the Overton (397) and Lake Mead (394) exchanges.
In June of 1988, the Logandale (398), Glendale (394) and Upper Muddy (865) exchanges were converted to Northern Telecom DMS 10’s making Moapa’s switching 100% digital. Custom Calling features such as Call-Waiting, 3-way Calling, Call Forwarding and Speed Calling became available with the digital switching.
In March of 1989, Moapa Valley Telephone provided its customers with equal access calling to multiple inter-exchange carriers. Now customers could choose their own long distance carrier. The only other companies in Nevada providing the service at this time were Nevada Bell and Centel.
Three years later, Moapa Valley Telephone Company implemented SS7 signaling. SS7 was a revolution in the way telephone companies routed phone calls. It greatly reduced the time that it took to complete a call and allowed for new features such as Caller ID, Selective Call Acceptance and Rejection, Distinctive Ringing and Customer Originated Trace. Access lines had grown to 2,400.
Nineteen ninety-three brought fiber optic cable to Moapa Valley Telephone Company with the completion of the installation of fiber cable between the Overton-Logandale-Glendale exchanges which provided for additional circuits and downsizing of the copper PCM system.
In May of 1993, Moapa Valley Telephone, Lincoln County Telephone, (Pioche, Nevada) Rio Virgin Telephone, (Mesquite, Nevada) and Centel (Las Vegas, Nevada now known as Sprint) formalized an agreement to connect the four companies through fiber optics. In late January of 1996, thirty months after filing, Moapa Valley Telephone Company received the right-of-way permit to construct, operate and maintain a fiber optic cable on BLM property. Construction of Moapa’s portion of the joint project began in February and was completed and operational to Las Vegas in July, replacing the old analog microwave radio. Moapa Valley Telephone completed the other legs a few months later.
In August of 1996 Rex Jensen started Comnett Internet and a few months later John Hudrlik, a Moapa Valley Telephone employee, started MVNET, bringing local dial-up Internet access to Moapa Valley. Many customers got a second phone line for their home computer causing annual access line growth rates between 5 and 10 through 2001. In July of 1998, Moapa Valley Telephone installed an expensive and proprietary DSL system made by PairGain and teamed with Comnett to provide high speed Internet access. Once again we beat our larger neighbor to the south, Las Vegas, in offering the newest technology--DSL. The early users of DSL were pleased with its performance. One of our customers stated that she would give up her husband before she gave-up her DSL.
In November 2000, MVT started offering DSL and dial-up Internet as a stand alone provider. Also, during this time we began using a standards-based Alcatel DSL system which allowed us to lower our DSL price. Later we purchased MVNET and its 200 dial-up customers from John Hudrlik. MVT has seen phenomenal growth in the number of DSL lines installed and in July of 2005, we installed our third generation of DSL equipment made by Occam Networks.
In July of 2004 MVT installed a MetaSwitch VP 3510 telephone switch. The VP 3510 uses IP (Internet Protocol) switching technology or Voice over IP (VoIP). VoIP promises cheaper phone service with more features and options.
In April of 2006 Calvert Lyon retired as the General Manager of MVT and his brother John Lyon took over. Cal has worked fulltime for MVT for nearly 40 years (more if you count his time as a youth helping his father.) Cal served 31 years as GM of MVT.
Moapa Valley Telephone Company is dedicated to providing modern, up-to-date communication services to its customers. Dial service was available in Moapa Valley eight years before it became available in Las Vegas. Moapa was the first small company to offer equal access and was among the leaders in achieving 100% digital switching and providing CLASS services. In May 1997, the SS7 Network was expanded to bring calling number information from anywhere in the United Sates. In July of 1998 MVT became one of the first telephone companies in the state to offer DSL. In July of 2004 Moapa Valley Telephone was the first traditional telephone company in the state to install a telephone switch fully capable of Voice over IP services. Moapa Valley Telephone is a growing company with a steady average growth of 5-6% per year which reached a high of 9% in 1996 with total access lines exceeding 3, 250. Currently (May of 2006) Moapa Valley Telephone has about 4,100 telephone lines, 1,500 DSL lines, and 200 dial-up Internet customers.