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Telephone and Data Systems History

Telephone and Data Systems began in 1969 as a collection of 10 small, rural telephone companies. We're now a Fortune 500® company with more than seven million customers in 36 states. The milestones below describe significant moments in our company's history.

1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000s

1969: LeRoy T. Carlson founds the company with 10 small, rural telephone operations in Wisconsin.

1970: LeRoy Carlson, foreseeing the critical role of data, renames the company Telephone and Data Systems, Inc.
1974: TDS grows to 39 companies serving 205 communities in 17 states, and pays its first dividend.
1975: TDS reaches 100,000 subscribers.
1976: TDS purchases its first electronic switching systems, expanding from a traditional telephone service provider to a telecommunications company.
TDS acquires Illinois printing company Suttle Press and relocates it to Wisconsin.
1979: TDS begins its second decade with 47 local offices and more than 170,000 telephones in service.
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1981: TDS is listed on the American Stock Exchange under the ticker 'TDS', selling one million shares.
LeRoy T. Carlson, Jr. becomes president of TDS. LeRoy T. Carlson remains chief executive officer and chairman of the TDS board of directors.
1983: U.S. Cellular is founded as a cellular service subsidiary of TDS.
1986: LeRoy T. Carlson, Jr. becomes president and chief executive officer of TDS.
1988: U.S. Cellular becomes a public company, traded on the American Stock Exchange under the stock ticker 'USM'.
TDS forms TDS Telecommunications Corporation (TDS Telecom) as its fully owned wireline service provider.
1989: TDS reaches its 20th year with 74 local offices in 27 states serving 264,000 access lines. U.S. Cellular is the nation's eighth-largest cellular company and eighth-largest paging company.
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1990: TDS Telecom names James Barr III president and CEO.
1993: TDS has more than one million customers from all of its subsidiaries.
1994: TDS Telecom acquires long-distance telephone company USLink.
1995: U.S. Cellular grows to 500,000 subscribers and 1,000 cell sites.
1996: U.S. Cellular reaches one million subscribers.
Aerial Communications, a TDS subsidiary, goes public in an initial public offering.
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 introduces the Competitive Local Exchange Carrier (CLEC) concept, allowing new CLECs to compete against Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers (ILECs), using certain network elements of the local incumbent provider. Rural ILECs such as TDS Telecom are excluded from having to provide CLEC access to their network elements.
1997: TDS Telecom begins offering DISH Network™ satellite TV service.
1998: U.S. Cellular reaches two million customers and 2,000 cell sites.
TDS Telecom begins operating a CLEC subsidiary, TDS Metrocom.
American Paging merges into TSR Wireless Holdings, a private company.
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2000: TDS Telecom introduces digital subscriber line (DSL) service.
U.S. Cellular names John E. "Jack" Rooney president and CEO.
U.S. Cellular reaches three million customers.
Aerial Communications is merged into VoiceStream.
2001: TDS Telecom incorporates Chorus Communications Group.
Suttle Press acquires Straus Printing Company and becomes Suttle-Straus, Inc.
2002: Walter C.D. Carlson is appointed (non-executive) chairman of the board of TDS, and LeRoy T. Carlson becomes chairman emeritus of the TDS board of directors.
TDS Telecom acquires Merrimack County Telephone, Inc. and Telecommunication Systems of New Hampshire, Inc.
U.S. Cellular enters the Chicago market after acquiring the Chicago metropolitan trading area (MTA).
U.S. Cellular reaches four million customers and 3,000 cell sites.
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2003: TDS celebrates 35 years of providing outstanding communications experiences.
U.S. Cellular acquires naming rights to the Chicago White Sox ball park, which becomes U.S. Cellular Field.
U.S. Cellular begins building 12 new markets, including Oklahoma City and St. Louis, after receiving new spectrum through a transaction with Cingular.
2004: TDS Telecom's DSL market share in its ILEC markets surpasses that of cable modem after only four years of offering DSL.
2005: U.S. Cellular reaches five million customers.
  TDS pays a special common share dividend, doubling the number of shares of TDS outstanding common stock.
U.S. Cellular enters St. Louis, which becomes the company's second-largest market after Chicago.
2006: TDS Telecom reaches 100,000 DSL customers.
2007: TDS Telecom names David R. Wittwer president and CEO; James Barr III retires.
  U.S. Cellular reaches six million customers.
2008: TDS and U.S. Cellular list on the New York Stock Exchange, retaining their ticker symbols.
  TDS Telecom introduces managedIP, a hosted Internet Protocol (IP) solution for businesses, and launches TDS TV® in two trial markets in Tennessee.
  TDS founder LeRoy T. Carlson becomes director emeritus of TDS, a non-voting position.
2009: U.S. Cellular launches industry-first Battery Swap program, enabling customers to exchange their dead or dying batteries for fully charged batteries for free in U.S. Cellular retail stores.
  U.S. Cellular receives its seventh-consecutive J.D. Power and Associates award for call quality in the North Central Region.
  TDS Telecom is approved for $136 million in government stimulus funding to bring broadband access to rural areas.
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2010: U.S. Cellular names Mary N. Dillon president and CEO; Jack Rooney retires.
  U.S. Cellular offers Android™-powered smartphones and tablet, and launches an exclusive package of benefits and services called The Belief ProjectSM.
  U.S. Cellular receives its tenth-consecutive J.D. Power and Associates awards for call quality in the North Central Region, and wins the PC Magazine Readers' Choice Award for wireless carriers with a contract option for the third time.
  TDS builds its hosted and managed services business with the acquisitions of data center services and managed hosting providers VISI Incorporated of Minnesota and TEAM Technologies, LLC of Iowa and Wisconsin.
  TDS Telecom improves service reliability and increases data capacity with the first phase of its 10-gigabyte network. The company is also approved for $136 million in government stimulus funding to bring broadband access to rural areas.
  U.S. Cellular and TDS are named among the 200 "Most Trustworthy Companies" in the U.S. by Forbes.
  TDS founder LeRoy T. Carlson is inducted into the Wireless History Foundation Hall of Fame at age 94.
2011: U.S. Cellular and TDS Telecom are named J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Customer Service Champions.
  TDS acquires Arizona-based OneNeck IT Services Corporation, a provider of hosted application management and managed IT hosting services. OneNeck is managed by TDS Hosted & Managed Services, LLC.
  U.S. Cellular wins its second-consecutive PC Magazine Readers' Choice Award for wireless carriers that offer a contract option. U.S. Cellular has won the award four times in the past five years.
2012: TDS, parent company to TDS Telecom, acquires Vital Support Systems, LLC. This acquisition brings deep IT Solution Provider capabilities to TDS Hosted & Managed Services, LLC.
  U.S. Cellular's outstanding customer service continues to receive third-party recognition: J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Customer Service Champion; Highest Network Quality Performance Among Wireless Cell Phone Users in the North Central Region, J.D. Power and Associates; top smartphone contract carrier in PC Magazine Readers' Choice Awards.
  TDS is once again among Forbes' 200 "Most Trustworthy Companies" in the U.S.
  U.S. Cellular begins offering prepaid and postpaid wireless service through Walmart stores nationwide.
  TDS adds Vital Support Systems, an IT solution provider, to the TDS Hosted & Managed Services business. Later in 2012, Vital launches ReliaCloud™, a highly secure enterprise cloud solution housed in Tier III data centers. TEAM Technologies, acquired in 2010, becomes part of Vital Support Systems.
  U.S. Cellular agrees to sell its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and three other Midwest markets to Sprint, to increase focus on markets where it has strong positions.
  TDS TV™, TDS Telecom's proprietary IPTV service, is available in 10 markets by the end of 2012.
  U.S. Cellular brings 4G LTE network access to 61 percent of its customers, and introduces iconic new 4G LTE smartphones, tablets and mobile hotspots. U.S. Cellular also receives up to $40.1 million in funds from the FCC's Sept. 27 Mobility Auction 901 to bring mobile broadband service to rural communities in 10 states.
2013: Phil LaForge is named president of TDS Hosted & Managed Services.
  TDS agrees to acquire Baja Broadband, a cable company headquartered in New Mexico, to support TDS Telecom's broadband and video growth strategy.
  Cecilia D. Stewart is appointed to the U.S. Cellular Board of Directors.
  U.S. Cellular announces that it will begin offering Apple products later in 2013.
  U.S. Cellular closes the transaction to divest its Chicago, St. Louis, central Illinois and three other markets for $480 million. U.S. Cellular later declares a special cash dividend of $5.75 per Common Share and Series A Common Share, for an aggregate amount of approximately $481 million.
  U.S. Cellular names Kenneth R. Meyers president and CEO of U.S. Cellular; Mary Dillon resigns.
  U.S. Cellular agrees to sell the majority of its Mississippi Valley 10MHz REA AWS spectrum license for $308 million, subject to regulatory approval. The transaction is expected to close in 2013.
  TDS Telecom brings its TDS® Fiberville™ marketing campaign to communities in its markets to create awareness of services like 100Mbps Internet, high-definition TDS TV® and digital voice.
  TDS closes the Baja Broadband acquisition and begins the integration process.
  TDS expands the solution provider capabilities of its hosted and managed services business through the acquisition of MSN Communications, Inc., headquartered in Colorado. MSN Communications becomes part of TDS Hosted & Managed Services, operated by TDS Telecom.
2014: U.S. Cellular is named a 2014 J.D. Power Customer Champion, one of only 50 companies nationwide to be recognized for service excellence.
  TDS Hosted & Managed Services rebrands as OneNeck® IT Solutions, incorporating all of the existing TDS HMS companies (Vital Support Systems, OneNeck IT Services Corp., VISI, and MSN Communications) under the new brand. Phil LaForge is named president and CEO of OneNeck IT Solutions.

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