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Events in telecommunications history

1923

The first of the series of so-called 'Bulk Supply Agreements' between manufacturers and the Post Office was signed in this year, the first being the Telephone Exchange Equipment Bulk Supply Agreement (TEEBSA) for the supply of automatic exchange equipment. It was signed between the Post Office and the four manufacturers (Automatic Telephone Manufacturing Co, General Electric Co Ltd, Siemens Brothers Ltd and Standard Telephone & Cables). It marked the beginning of the progressive development and standardisation of the British telephone system over the next 40 years following the adoption of the Strowger system of step-by-step working using two motion selectors in 1922). There were clear advantages for all parties to the agreement: manufacturers avoided having to tender for all exchanges, parallel development work was unnecessary, manufacturers all had a 'fair' share of available Post Office business, and advantageous prices were negotiated for the Post Office. The Agreement was renewed a number of times and a fifth manufacturer, Ericsson Telephones Ltd, became a party to it in 1927.

The establishment of the British Telephone Technical Development Committee in 1933 contributed to effective standardisation of the system. Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, however, there was a progressive abandonment of the TEEBSA and other bulk supply agreements in favour of competitive tendering. The TEEBSA was eventually terminated in October 1969 when competition for the supply of step-by-step equipment was introduced. Other bulk supply agreements with manufacturers concerned the following:-

  • Loading Coils, 1931-1963

  • Cable, 1931-1963

  • Batteries, 1931-1953

  • Telephone Subscribers Apparatus, 1933-1968

  • Transmission (Audio and Voice Frequency Telegraph)

  • Equipment, 1936-1946

  • Cordage and Cords, 1936-1952

A licence was granted to the States of Jersey to operate a local telephone service: 15 exchanges with 1,639 lines and 26 call offices were transferred to the States Department of the island at a cost of £32,000.

Communication across the Atlantic by wireless telegraphy was established for two hours on 14 January. Speech passed from Rocky Point, Long Island, to the Western Electric Company's factory at New Southgate, North London.

The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) was set up by Western Electric, Marconi, General Electric, British Thomson-Houston, Radio Communication and Metropolitan Vickers. It received its licence for regular broadcasting of programmes of speech and music, and opened stations in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

The minimum fee from London call offices was reduced from 3d to 2d in July.

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