The "Riviera and Riviera Beach Telephone Exchange" was organized and built in 1910 by B.A., T.B. and M.C. Whitcomb.  The Whitcomb brothers received their first franchise to operate the "Riviera and Riviera Beach Telephone Exchange" in Nueces County, Texas by Theodore F. Koch of Harris County, Texas on November 5, 1912. At the time of the issuance of the franchise, this area was still a part of Nueces County. The switchboard that was used to connect the calls for the customers was operated from the Whitcomb home located on 8th Street and South Boulevard in Riviera.

 

On January 25, 1926, John J. May purchased the Riviera Telephone Exchange from the Whitcomb brothers after a severe ice storm had damaged a great many of the telephone lines. The switchboard was moved to the May residence on South Boulevard, one-half block East of Highway 77.

 

Alton B. (A. B.)  and Erma Colston purchased the Riviera Telephone Exchange from John J.  May on June 10, 1937.  A. B. and Erma owned and operated a grocery store, meat market and ice house near the May Hardware Store.  The price was negotiated between John J. May and A. B. Colston and a note for the sale was drawn up between the gentlemen.  Listed in the terms of the note was “1 cow branded / / / on left side; 1 heifer 6 months old, no brand; and the building in which he (A. B. Colston) operated the market in Riviera”.  These items were pledged as collateral in the note.  The switchboard was moved only two doors west to the grocery store, meat market and ice house but was still located in a residence since A. B. and Erma lived in the back of the store with their son, Bill.

 

In 1940 A. B. and Erma divorced and A. B. left Riviera.  Erma and Bill Colston operated the Riviera Telephone Exchange and the store by themselves until Erma married Walter H. Riedel in 1943.  That year the switchboard was moved again, ironically to the original location where it started in 1910, 8th Street and South Boulevard.

 

In 1955, the switchboard was retired and Riviera Telephone Exchange installed their first dial telephones. Although pleased with the new updated system, the customers missed the personal answering service they had become accustomed to.

 

In 1959, Bill Colston and his wife, Anne, came to work for the Riviera Telephone Exchange and  the company added customers that lived in Sarita, Texas in Kenedy County. Previously, this area was served by a "toll station" circuit from Southwestern Bell.  The method of providing service by Southwestern Bell was expensive and few residents could afford the service in their homes. Riviera Telephone Exchange purchased the existing lines and equipment in the Sarita area from Southwestern Bell and constructed new lines from Riviera to Sarita to serve more customers.  When the service was turned up in Sarita there were 125 customers that subscribed to the new service.

 

In 1964 the organization was incorporated and its new name became Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. The first officers for the corporation were: Walter H. Riedel, President; Bill C. Colston, Vice-President; Erma C. Riedel, Treasurer and Anne S. Colston, Secretary.  The incorporation was necessary to prepare for the company to borrow money from the Rural Electrification Administration (REA) to upgrade its network and outside plant.  When Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. turned up its new state of the art switching equipment tied to its newly constructed underground plant in 1965 it became the first telephone company in the Southwest area of the United States to have all one party service served by an all underground cable plant.  Switch buildings were located at Loyola Beach, Sarita and Riviera to allow closer access to the vast geographic area that the company now served.   As a result of it new infrastructure during Hurricane Beulah in 1967, few telephones were out of service.  Prior to these upgrades many of the customers on the open wire plant would experience hours of outage each evening due to the high concentration of salt in the air. 

In 1968, Bill Colston, Jr. was employed by Riviera Telephone Company, Inc.  In 1971 his wife, Judy came to work after their marriage.  The Colston, Jr.s spent the first six months after their marriage going to switch school in Rochester, NY.

 

In 1970, Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. installed "Direct Distance Dialing" which gave its subscribers the capability of dialing 1+ or 0+ to make a long distance call without the assistance of an operator.

 

In October, 1975, the Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. moved its business office, for the first time in its history, outside of a residence.  A new headquarters building was built at the corner of 8th Street and South Boulevard in Riviera.  This location is across the street from the location that the company started in 1910 when the Whitcomb’s owned it.  The new headquarters building houses the business office and the Riviera switch equipment. 

 

In 1978, Leslie Colston, Bill Colston's younger son, came to work full time for Riviera Telephone Co., Inc.

 

In 1985, the Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. business office doubled in size with an expansion that added more offices, a conference room and a computer room for in-house billing in the headquarters building.

 

In 1988, Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. upgraded its central office equipment from an electro-mechanical switch to a digital switch, giving its subscribers a variety of custom calling features they could subscribe to, including Call Forwarding, Call Waiting and Wake Up Service.

 

In 1992 Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. expanded its coverage area and provided telephone service to Norias, Armstrong and all of the ranch land from Sarita to Norias.  Telephone service was provided to customers that had never had service in their homes in their family’s history.  The residences that did have service had service similar to the type of service that was discontinued in Sarita in 1959 when Riviera Telephone Exchange built service to them.  When this service was constructed the Armstrong switch building was established.

 

In 1994, Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. converted to "Equal Access", giving subscribers the opportunity to select their long distance carrier.

 

In 1996 Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. added Voice Mail and access to the Internet. A new company, Riviera Cable TV, purchased the cable TV systems in Riviera and Ricardo. 

 

In 1999 Bill Colston, III came to work full time for Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. after his graduation from Texas A&M with a degree in business management. 

 

In 2005 Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. began offering DSL high speed broadband to some areas in both the Riviera and Loyola Beach Exchanges.

 

Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. currently serves approximately 1150 customers out of four exchanges; Riviera, Loyola Beach, Sarita and Armstrong.  The service area encompasses three Texas counties, Kleberg, Kenedy and Brooks and covers approximately 1000 square miles.  Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. provides dial up broadband to 100% of its customers and DSL high speed broadband service to nearly 100% of its customers.  Riviera Telephone Company, Inc. has twelve full time employees and one part time employee.  It is a closed corporation and is still owned and managed by the Colston family, now in its fourth generation.

 

 

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