For more than 100 years, Ritter Communications (the same Ritter Steve Gleave hosted on the Telco Americana Podcast) has been a staple when it comes to providing communications services in northeastern Arkansas. Ritter was founded in 1906 and is headquartered in Jonesboro, Arkansas, the fifth most populous city in Arkansas and home of Arkansas State University. Jonesboro is considered one of Arkansas’s most progressive cities and is a regional center for manufacturing, agriculture, medicine, education, and trade. Ritter Communications has worked to do its part in helping make Jonesboro what it is today.
Started as a local phone service provider, Ritter now offers a variety of tools including high-speed, high-performance Internet, state-of-the-art telecommunications, secure site-to-site networking, industry-leading support, and a host of cloud services throughout 57 communities in Arkansas, Tennessee, and Missouri. Ritter has taken pride in being one of the first and only fiber-deep networks servicing local businesses and also boasts Arkansas’s first and only fiber-deep network with Internet speeds up to 10 GbPS. Ritter’s state-of-the-art network allows all customers, regardless of their location, to enjoy advanced services typically found only in major metropolitan areas.
From high-speed Internet to voice services, Ritter has continued to be an innovator in telecommunications. In 2013, Ritter launched an enhanced version of its Managed Voice service. This service is made possible through Ritter’s partnership with Metaswitch Networks, Aastra, and Cisco—successfully integrating with all them to provide a single, end-to-end hosted business solution. Managed Voice uses Metaswitch’s Hosted Business Services solution as the switching and application platforms for multimedia telephony. It also uses Cisco’s fully managed networking infrastructure, which enables optimal control over the service offering. Additionally, a wide array of Aastra IP handsets and accessories help to meet user demand.
Ritter previously integrated innovated technology from Metaswitch when, in 2008, it deployed the Metaswitch 4/5 softswitch to provide traditional voice, VoIP, and voice-over-cable. The goal for Ritter was to integrate with a mix of access technologies across a variety of platforms in order to maintain an efficient and reliable network. In addition to converting all of its switches to the MetaSwitch platform, Ritter Communications uses the MetaSphere service delivery platform to deploy advanced applications that include Unified Messaging, CommPortal web interface, CommPortal Assistant toolbar, Auto-Attendant, and Privacy Defender.
While implementing innovative technology, Ritter also has made efforts to expand its customer base. In March 2015, Ritter reached an interconnection agreement with iRiS Networks to bring fiber and Ethernet services to more than 100 rural markets in Arkansas, Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. This partnership allows both companies to provide top-notch services to customers ranging in size from small- to enterprise-level businesses as well as regional telecommunications providers with capacity from 1 Mbps to more than 10 Gbps.
In the last several years, Ritter has expanded its reach through a mix of organic and targeted acquisitions, including Millington Telephone Company and Millington CATV in Tennessee in 2012. This acquisition, as well as the partnership with iRiS, allows Ritter to more effectively meet the needs of businesses and wholesale customers in a much larger and expanding territory.
Ritter also is working to bring fiber to greater parts of Arkansas. They are currently installing fiber optic lines around Mountain Home, which is west of Jonesboro, Arkansas. The plans are to use the lines to connect cell towers for cellular service. The installation also is part of a project for the Arkansas Department of Information Services, which aims to provide computer services for schools. Ritter’s efforts in particular will give broadband services to schools under the Arkansas Public Schools Computer Network, which will allow schools to implement long-distance learning, a variety of training courses, standardized testing assistance, and other computer-related services.
Over the last 100-plus years, Ritter Communications has evolved into an advanced telecommunications company that has not only developed and implemented new technology, but also worked to provide that technology to the masses. Ritter Communications stands by the idea that they are “close enough to count on” and “committed enough to care.” With those principles and continued innovation, there’s no doubt that Ritter is due for another 100-plus years of success.