Telephone cooperatives were designed to provide service to underserved rural areas the big companies weren't interested in.
Today, some are taking on the big boys in providing Internet services and smartphones.
Havre-based Triangle Communications plunged headfirst into the Hi-Line market with the grand opening of its downtown store Saturday morning.
The opening ceremonies included a "flash mob" at Saturday Market at Town Square and a plane that carried Triangle's banner in the sky over Havre.
Triangle already has a store at Fort Belknap and an agent store in Malta, but the opening of the Havre store marked an important point in the smartphone effort, Triangle officials said.
It had all the traditional aspects of an opening. Triangle officials cut a ribbon, fed the large crowd with a barbecue and pitched their new service.
Rick Stevens, general manager of Triangle and Hill County Electric Cooperative, spoke to many customers as they looked at the phones.
Stevens said his company offers service to the rest of the country as well as other companies do and provides service to remote areas of the Hi-Line that others don't touch.
"If you want to talk to Texas or New York, you can," Tim Nixdorf, Triangle's wireless operations manager said.
But its new towers will enable people to reach remote local areas such as Hays, areas to the west of Havre and places such as Simpson north of Havre.
People driving to Billings will be able to have service the entire route, he said.
Triangle has several new towers operational and others going up in Box Elder and south to Fort Benton, he said.
It is working with Glasgow-based Nemont Co. so that callers can get through to all areas in that region, he said.
Triangle jumped into the wireless market about 15 years ago, Steven said, then slowed down a bit.
Then it decided to go into the market full-speed ahead, and they are confident it was the right decision.
Nixdorf said reaction from the public has been very positive, and he thinks many people are willing to make the switch.
There is some risk, Triangle officials said.
"But if you don't build it, they won't come," Stevens said.