Grant E. Preston purchased Hot Springs Telephone Co. on January 1, 1935. At the time the total count of customers was 80 and calls were directed by an operator (Mrs. Garnet Preston) to the desired party through a switchboard. It wasn’t until 1948 that Mr. Preston converted from the switchboard to party lines.
The telephone company used party lines until 1991 when 1 party services were put in place. The local calling area from 1935-2005 was Hot Springs only, and all other areas were considered a long-distance call. The local calling area expanded in 2005 which included most of Blackfoot’s and Ronan Telephone Co. service areas.
Internet was introduced in 1996 and a fiber optic cable was completed from Ronan to Hot Springs the same year. In 2000, the company went from dial up internet to DSL that was available to customers in town and by 2002 most of the rural areas had DSL access.
Interesting fact, Hot Springs Montana had to be right up there with being one of the last towns in the U.S to have payphones. Sadly, the last payphone was taken out of commission on February 26,2019.
As of January 2019, Hot Springs Telephone Company services over 700 phone lines, 550+ data lines and over 100 miles of fiber.