NITCO is a telephone and internet service provider with a singular focus – providing for their local customers. With roots in the community that stretch back over 125 years, NITCO is founded on its commitment to Northwest Indiana, through customer service and beyond.
Tom Long, NITCO president, noted that fulfilling that commitment is a company-wide effort – accomplished by a team of employees that live and work in the Region. He takes pride in having helped create a culture where the staff invests in the community.
“We’re local, we all live here, and that’s one of my commitments,” he said. “There’s a long history of NITCO and our employees giving back to this community that they serve. They give their time and energy to organizations across the region, such as rotaries and Kiwanis clubs, for me personally, I’ve served as Chairman of the Board at the Valparaiso Chamber of Commerce. It’s about volunteering and giving back wherever you can.”
NITCO itself also looks for opportunities to make financial contributions around the area, having paid for the Hebron Boy Scout’s cabin, helped finance local Little League Baseball, and many other nonprofits throughout the years.
“When our customers pay their bills, we’re making sure all that money stays here in this community,” Long said. “It’s not going out of state, with some of it coming right back here to local causes. That’s who we are.”
Long noted that while extracurricular acts, such as donations and volunteerism, are a big part of NITCO’s identity – the core of their community commitment always comes back to their service. Especially now, as the internet has become a foundational part of everyday life.
“The internet is now a critical piece of infrastructure,” said Long. “I’ll hear realtors say that the first question they’ll get when they’re showing clients a house is ‘how’s the internet,’ and if the answer isn’t good then they’re out, or when it comes to economic development it can make or break bringing in jobs. It’s that important.”
With how important the internet has become, Long believes that everyone deserves access. To that end, he highlighted NITCO’s eager participation in the federal Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Programs. Both are programs offered by the FCC that provide discounts on monthly internet and/or phone service.
“We want to provide affordable service to everyone,” he said. “Helping guide people to these programs that can help them has always been a part of our history, we help people get signed up and always have. In the 20th century, everyone needed a telephone, in the 21st everyone needs the internet. That’s how you access your doctors, emergency services – kids are doing their homework online. It’s essential.”
Local police, fire, & other emergency responders are even more reliant on phone and internet service. A stable connection could be the difference in saving lives – and NITCO’s worked to ensure those connections are always open for decades. Police & fire departments ranging from East Chicago, Valparaiso, all the way to Jasper County rely on NITCO to keep them connected in any situation.
“We provide so much redundancy in that network that their call is going to go through,” Long said. “NITCO was there when Porter County first implemented its 911 system. We worked with the government to help design it, create it, and launch it. We know that these organizations must be able to get connected, and stay that way, especially in big emergencies, so that they can do their jobs.”
Long also highlighted the work NITCO does with local schools. Currently, they serve 12 school corporations throughout Northwest Indiana – some of which they’ve been working with for almost a century when phone lines were their entire business.
“We’ve been serving several of those for 80 years,” Long said. “They’ve changed how kids are learning these days, the internet is so key to what they do. These schools are the vitality of our communities.”
Headquartered in Hebron, many of NITCO’s customers are rural – a demographic that often struggles to find providers offering the data transfer speeds necessary for modern internet usage. Much of Long’s recent focus has been on getting those rural communities modernized.
“A lot of these schools and communities are very rural, but they still need a lot of bandwidth,” he said. “That’s why we’re installing fiber optic so that these schools can keep doing what they do. We take great pride in giving top-level service – each of these school corporations has a special number that they can call 24/7 to speak to one of our qualified, highly trained technicians 365 days of the year.”
NITCO recently announced that they are a founding partner of Hoosier Net, LLC, a group of 17 internet service providers around Indiana uniting to provide carriers and enterprise companies access to thousands of miles of fiber throughout the state.
“Indiana is the Crossroads of America,” Long said. “That includes thousands of miles of fiber infrastructure that is now available to carriers and ISPs to bring broadband access to Hoosiers.”
As NITCO continues to grow, they rely on those technicians, office team members, construction workers, and other customer support staff to maintain its high standard of service.
“We service over 8,000 businesses and residential homes spread out over five counties and we’re still growing our footprint,” he said. “As a company, that means we can provide opportunities to bring on employees, help them grow personally, allow chances for movement, and give them a great career. It’s a great team of dedicated employees who are all about customer service – these are people you might bump into at Strack’s.”
To learn more about NITCO, their history, services, and commitment to the community, visit nitco.com