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Events in telecommunications history


The Government licensed Mercury Communications Ltd. as the main competitor to BT as a telecommunications network provider. Mercury, originally owned by a consortium of Cable & Wireless, British Petroleum and Barclays Merchant Bank, was later a wholly owned subsidiary of Cable & Wireless, and in 1999 was part of Cable & Wireless Communications, formed from a merger with Nynex of the United States, Bellcable Media and Videotron.

Customers were able to buy terminal equipment from suppliers other than British Telecom from June this year. Equipment had to meet standards set by BABT

On 19 July, the Government formally announced its intention to sell up to 51 per cent of British Telecom to the public - the first example of the privatisation of a public utility. A Telecommunications Bill was introduced the same year. The future for British Telecom was described thus by Kenneth Baker, Minister for Industry and Information Technology: "The Bill creates freedom from Treasury and ministerial control. It also gives freedom to BT to grow, to operate overseas, and to make acquisitions ... the market is growing so quickly that BT can expand only by becoming a free, independent company."

The world's longest optical fibre telephone cable was brought into service between London and Birmingham.

British Telecom introduced the Telecom Gold electronic mail service.

IDD (International Direct Dialling) was made available throughout the United Kingdom.

Telemessages (overnight delivery services) superseded the inland telegram service on 30 September.

Bureaufax was established, a facsimile service for sending documents between offices in the UK and more than 60 other countries.

The first national directory of facsimile users' numbers was published by British Telecom.

The first 'Transaction Telephones' were installed in traders' premises - a system which helps fraudprevention by enabling plastic credit cards to be checked via the data network.

The CS Iris served as a despatch vessel to carry stores, mail and military personnel in the South Atlantic during the Falklands conflict.

The Telecom Technology Showcase was opened - an exhibition centre showing the development of communications from the earliest days to the present era by means of displays of telecommunications equipment. From 1991 the Showcase has been known as 'The Story of Telecommunications', part of the BT Museum.

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