Brantley Telephone Company was established in April 1945, when Dr. Strickland's parents, Avery and Lena Strickland, purchased a small rural telephone system and its 52 subscribers. Mr. Strickland had maintained telephone lines for the Georgia Forestry Department and his experience working on Brantley County's 140 miles of lines gave him the confidence necessary to take what many considered to be a big risk at the time and purchase the small telephone system.
With Mr. and Mrs. Strickland working day and night manning the switchboard, the company soon began to grow. By 1952, they had greatly improved service quality and grown to 200 subscribers. It was in that year that Brantley Telephone Company was granted a corporate charter. The original stockholders were: Avery Strickland, President; Elroy Strickland, Vice President; and Lena Strickland, Secretary and Treasurer. It was also in 1952 that BTC applied for and received a loan from the Rural Electrification Administration's new telephone program that allowed the company to expand its service area, upgrade to a rotary-dial system, and construct a brick building in Nahunta to house the new equipment.
Investments such as this one into the latest technology available allowed BTC to grow exponentially. BTC was the first to introduce rotary dial service to South Georgia, installing it even before Southern Bell did in Waycross or Brunswick. In 1965, BTC upgraded from eight-party to four-party lines. On June 11, 1970, BTC inaugurated Direct Distance Dialing, eliminating the need for operator assistance on a long-distance call. Again, BTC was the first in South Georgia to provide this service.
In 1985, Avery Strickland was inducted into the Peach State Chapter, Independent Telephone Pioneer Association Hall of Fame, in recognition of his outstanding achievement, dedication, and loyalty to the telecommunications industry. Through Mr. Strickland's leadership, Brantley Telephone Company continued to keep pace with new technology and the many advances in the industry. In 1986, with the customer base now reaching 2,500, the company deployed new digital switching equipment. Mr. Strickland remained instrumental in company operations until it changed ownership in 1991.
In 1991, Avery "Wade" Strickland, M.D., the oldest child of Avery and Lena Strickland, purchased the company's outstanding stock from his four sisters. Dr. Strickland now serves as President of Brantley Telephone Company, and his son Donovan serves as Vice President and General Manager.
The years following Dr. Strickland's purchase were busy ones for BTC. In 1993, the company cut over its first fiber-optic cables and upgraded its facilities to provide one-party service across its entire service area. That year also marked Brantley Telephone's initial move beyond plain old telephone services with its purchase of a DIRECTV franchise, enabling the company to offer digital video services to surrounding counties.
In 1995, BTC upgraded to a digital class-5 central office switch, which provided many more calling features to community residents. BTC has maintained its position on the cutting edge of telecommunication services with dial-up Internet access in 1997 and high-speed DSL service access in 2002.
In 2006, BTC embarked on the largest construction project in its history - a complete conversion of its 1100 miles of copper telephone infrastructure to a new fiber-to-the-home network. Dr. Strickland has continued the tradition of his parents, once more helping BTC introduce a service before other much larger companies in South Georgia.
Fiber offers the reliability of landline telephone service, the fastest broadband Internet speeds available, as well as enough bandwidth to allow BTC to launch a new Internet Protocol Television system that is the first of its kind anywhere.
Brantley Telephone Company's goal has been, and will always be, to provide its customers with high-quality telecommunications services at competitive rates. This service philosophy is at the core of the company's success in its first 65 years of business and makes the future of Brantley Telephone Company look equally strong.