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Events in telecommunications history

1983

Purpose-built Telcare (Telecom Customer Attitude Research) centres opened, providing continuous and up-to-date measurements of customers' opinions, enabling British Telecom to respond quickly to customers' needs.

Kenneth Baker, Minister for Information Technology, announced in the House of Commons on 17 November that British Telecom and Mercury Communications would enjoy a 'duopoly' on basic telecommunications services for the following seven years (except for the City of Kingston-upon-Hull which would continue to operate its own service), after which the position would be reviewed. This was to give Mercury security in the early stages of its development to establish itself as an effective competitor to British Telecom, and to give British Telecom time to adjust to competition in the private sector.

Earlier in the year, in February, the Government accepted a recommendation of a report by Professor Littlechild that British Telecom's tariff increases for the five years after liberalisation should be pegged below the inflation rate.

A new Code of Practice for Telecommunications Services was published by British Telecom to reflect the rights of customers following changes by the Telecommunications Act, 1981. Before the Act, British Telecom had no liability for its services. The Code was produced in consultation with the Post Office Users' National Council and the Office of Fair Trading.

The transatlantic submarine cable, TAT 7, laid the previous year, was officially inaugurated on 16 September.

Mercury launched telecommunications services in the City of London.

British Telecom's first satellite coast station came into service with the opening of a new dish aerial at Goonhilly. Telephone and telex calls could be made or received direct for the first time to almost anywhere in the world, via Britain.

KiloStream and MegaStream digital private circuit services were launched.

British Telecom offered car telephone radio sets for the first time.

Telecom Tan, an advanced operator controlled messaging service, was launched.

Telecom Red, a range of security systems using telephone lines to link customers' premises to emergency services, was introduced.

The microprocessor-controlled press-button Blue Payphone 2 was introduced as part of £160 million modernisation programme of the payphone system. The new payphone replaced the pay-on-answer payphones.

The first electronic, microprocessor-controlled payphone, the 'Blue Payphone' had been introduced in 1979.

British Telecom's first cordless phone - the Hawk - came onto the market. It used a radio to link the mobile extension set, which could be up to 600 feet away, with the customer's telephone line.

Display Page, British Telecom's radiopager with a digital message display, was launched. A ten-digit liquid crystal display on the new pager could be used to identify the caller (by giving a phone number), or to convey a message.

Itemised billing was introduced on a trial basis on trunk and international calls in part of Bristol and Bath.

Confertel, a new flexible and inexpensive means of holding meetings by telephone, was introduced.

The Phototelegraph Service, a form of facsimile service operated by the Post Office and British Telecom for more than 50 years  was closed on 31 March. It was replaced by the more modern Bureaufax Service.

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