$5 million plant coming to Shelby-3 Rivers building phone facility

SHELBY — The 3 Rivers Telephone Cooperative will build a $5 million telephone plant in Shelby, offering the area’s first telephone and
Internet competition, cooperative officials announced this week.

Tribune Regional Editor

Construction will begin in June with telephone, Internet and other services available as early as October, Operations Manager Steve Krogue

Qwest now is the area’s only telephone provider.

"When this project is complete in October or November, Shelby residents and businesses will have a choice when it comes to their local
telephone service," Krogue said. "Our costs typically are a little below Qwest rates, maybe a 10 percent differential."

Services will include custom calling features, high-speed DSL Internet access and long-distance services. "Because our plant will be brand
new, the quality of the telephone transmission will be a lot higher," he added.

The plant will not be staffed, but 3 Rivers will create one job at a Shelby customer service office that will open downtown in two or three
weeks, Krogue said. Although service won’t be available until fall, customers can sign up as soon as the office opens.

Started in the Fairfield/Choteau area in the early ’50s, 3 Rivers provides phone service to 20,000 customers in 30 communities. The
cooperative also has 8,000 wireless telephone customers and 18,000 direct broadcast satellite TV customers.

Further expansions aren’t planned in the near future, Krogue said.

"At this point, we’re maxed out with what we’re working on in Shelby," he said. "We do wish to expand, but not this year."

The city of Shelby has been working with 3 Rivers for six months to land the facility, Mayor Larry Bonderud said.

"We just think that competition is better so consumers in Shelby will now have a choice," Bonderud said.

Shelby customers are comfortable with the cooperative business structure, he added. The town is home to the Marias River Electric Co-op
and the Shelby Gas Co-op.

"It’s real logical that a telephone co-op would be understood and welcomed in the community," Bonderud said. "We’re really thrilled about

Tribune correspondent Mark Daniels contributed to this report.

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