In late 2003, nine small independent telephone companies formed a partnership known as Northern Iowa Communications Partners (NICP). The founding companies were Terril Telephone Cooperative, Lone Rock Cooperative Telephone, Palmer Mutual Telephone Co., Independent Networks, River Valley Telecommunications Coop, Ayrshire Farmers Mutual Telephone Co. Northwest Telephone Cooperative Association, Ringsted Telephone Co., and Royal Telephone Co. Spencer Municipal Utilities also participates in the group thru a 28E agreement.
One of the first projects NICP decided to tackle was a shared telephone switching arrangement. Working together, the group selected a Switch and completed the initial deployment in 2004. By the end of that year, most member companies had migrated their SS7 routes with the remainder completing this transition in early 2005. In 2016, that legacy Switch was replaced with upgraded equipment that facilitates all the traditional residential features and a suite of next-generation business features.
The partnered switch project was such a success that in 2005 NICP decided to extend their arrangement to the bulk purchase of Broadband uplink. With the volume discounts this provided, the cost of delivering High-Speed Internet access lowered for the member companies. That first bulk Internet purchase was for a 125 Megabit uplink to Iowa Network Services. Today NICP usage has grown beyond 20 Gigabit of collective traffic. The nine members companies also wholesale Broadband access to a multitude of neighboring providers.
The next service the NICP group elected to provide was television. In 2010, the NICP group added Internet Protocol TV (IPTV) service. This allowed the group to migrate customers from the older analog and digital broadcast TV services to a new state of the art platform with very rich and engaging entertainment features. Migration commenced in 2011 and they now serve many counties in Iowa.