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
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
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
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
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
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