TDS and US Cellular founder LeRoy Carlson passes away at 100

LeRoy Carlson, founder and Chairman Emeritus of Telephone and Data Systems (TDS), passed away on Monday at 100 years old.

LeRoy T. Carlson, TDS


Carlson founded TDS in 1969 at the age of 52 during the heyday of AT&T, when Bell telephone system was the dominant telecom service provider.

Unlike the larger telephone companies at the time, TDS focused on serving rural and suburban communities.

TDS began as a collection of 10 small, rural telephone operations in Southern Wisconsin.

According to the company's website, Carlson saw the role that data would eventually play in the everyday lives of businesses and consumers. To reflect the potential of data, he renamed the company Telephone and Data Systems, Inc., in 1970.  

With those companies as its initial foundation, Carlson grew TDS into a national telecommunications provider with revenues of $5 billion in 2015. During his tenure as TDS chairman, Carlson was involved from the beginning in the establishment and development of U.S. Cellular in 1983.

Following service in World War II, Carlson had served in a number of management positions and ventures in real estate and other businesses, eventually purchasing Suttle Equipment Company, setting his ascent into the telecom industry.

Besides building TDS into a large company, Carlson also was an advocate of education. He built a program to support the continuing education of employees and associates, who take college and graduate level courses. Carlson, along with his wife, created several professorships at colleges and universities and the Margaret D. and LeRoy T. Carlson Fellowship at Harvard Business School.

In more recent years, TDS has continued to branch out in terms of service and focus.

Following the threshold set by Google Fiber, TDS has been rolling out FTTH services ranging from 100 Mbps to 1 Gbps in a number of its rural communities such as Hollis, New Hampshire. The service provider has also been actively building a managed services and cable business by purchasing such companies as One Neck and Bend Broadband.

For more:
- see the release

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