The History of Horry Telephone Cooperative (HTC Inc.)
Connecting Members and Community for over 70 years
Though hard to imagine today, most of Horry County was without telephone service at the beginning of the 1950’s. At that time, the telecommunications industry and providers were primarily focused on serving residents and businesses in more populated areas and cities.
However, several dedicated, local leaders decided not to wait any longer for someone else to provide telephone service to rural Horry County. It was time to get this important service to residents. Little did they know what started out as a quest to fill a need would turn into a Cooperative that has become a vital part of keeping area communities connected.
On January 18, 1951, a committee was formed to help bring telephone service into rural Horry County homes and businesses. With the help of the Horry Electric Cooperative and County Agent V.M. Johnston, several men including P.S. Page, H.E. Hayes, C.G. Bullock, A.B. Jackson, Joe Blount, F.M. Edge, Harry Davis, Barney Long and F.M. Shuford, came together to create the foundation that would eventually become the nation’s largest telephone cooperative.
As a first undertaking, the committee made plans to seek memberships to support the proposed Cooperative. Prospective members were required to purchase 10 shares at $5 per share for a total of $50, quite a large amount of money for many in Horry County in the early ‘50s. And with the search for members underway, the committee initiated a strong campaign to convince existing telephone companies within the region to expand service throughout Horry County, hoping the support and enthusiasm of county residents would create new interest in the territory.
However, there would be no such luck.
Seven companies were contacted, but still none were interested. The possibilities of rural telephone service looked bleak, but the Committee resolved to keep trying.
On June 16, 1952, the tide began to turn. A total of 81 members met at the Horry County Courthouse to officially incorporate Horry Telephone Cooperative, adopt by-laws and petition the state of South Carolina for a charter. Elections were also held to seat the inaugural Board of Directors, which included: Barney Long; Ernest Johnston, Sr.; Joe Blount; E.L. McGougan; H.L. Davis; F.M. Edge; D.K. Stalvey; Henry G. McNeill; and W.D. Johnson. At a subsequent meeting, McNeill was elected President of HTC (a position he held until his death in January 2007).
Also, in 1952, HTC initiated dial tone service, providing telephone service to approximately 264 residents of rural Horry County.
To help foster growth and meet the need for service throughout the service area, an application for a loan was made to the Rural Electrification Administration (REA). After much hard work and efforts by the Cooperative, the long-awaited approval of a $1.02 million loan was announced on December 12, 1952.
However, this was just the start and within the short span of 10 months, the Public Service Commission granted a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity for rural Horry County, which also included Surfside, Little River and Garden City, as well as Murrells Inlet in Georgetown County.
By the end of the 1950s, HTC had more than 1,500 members utilizing phone service throughout Horry County.
Since then, the trajectory has been high for the Cooperative. HTC has grown from a telephone cooperative serving farms and rural residents to now a full-service technology provider for both residential and business services.
The biggest change over the last 70 years has been the transition from telephone to Internet as the main service that HTC provides to members.
In 1995, HTC became one of the first direct local Internet access providers in the area and in less than a year HTC was providing access to more than 1,600 subscribers. In 2002 there was the launch of Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) service to members, along with cable modems being introduced, both of which helped deliver high-speed Internet/data services to residential customers.
Today, the Cooperative continues to operate on the leading-edge of the Internet industry and has the largest fiber-optic network in the region with more than 100,000 subscribers.