Electronic Communications History

1790 Words8 Pages
Introduction The origins of the market in electronic communications lie with the development and exploitation of the telegraph around the middle of the 19th century. You will find an excellent account of the development of the telegraph and some of the lessons this holds for the modern world in Tom Standage’s book, The Victorian Internet (readily available via Amazon). The telephone was invented (allegedly) by Alexander Graham Bell who in 1876 was granted a United States patent (174465) which in a mere six pages specified what are recognisably still the key features of the telephone system. You can see a copy of the patent at the USPTO Website. . Superlatives almost become exhausted in describing Bell’s patent. It was the most heavily litigated award of all time with more than 600 law suits raised challenging its validity. Perhaps the most serious challenge was raised by the Western Union Telegraph Company which held a dominant position in the telegraph sector. This claim was settled in 1879 . Western Union accepted the validity of Bell’s patent and agreed to keep out of the telephone business. In order to maintain Western’s key business in the telegraph sector, Bell agreed not to use the telephone business for ‘transmission of general business messages, market quotations, or news for sale or publication in competition with the business of Western Union.’ Other challenges persisted but in what was only the second most significant event of the year 1888 its validity was upheld by the US Supreme Court, (The Telephone Cases 1888 U.S. 1) in what is reportedly the longest judgement delivered in US patent history (some 197,000 words). The patent has frequently been described as the most valuable grant of all time. The concept of ... ... middle of paper ... ...e government retained a special or retained a ‘golden share’ which gave it a power of veto over certain aspects of the business. To a considerable extent, therefore, competition in the British market was initially between two organisations with strong public sector connections. It was announced in 1983 that no further licences would be issued to long-distance fixed-link operators for a period of 7 years. This was on the basis that in order to encourage Mercury to invest in the development of a network, it would require assurance of a stable competitive environment. The move, therefore was one from monopoly to duopoly although even at this stage it was recognised that the emerging market in mobile communications would provide alternatives to traditional fixed link operations. Licences for the creation of mobile networks were granted to Cellnet and Vodafone in 1983.

More about Electronic Communications History

Open Document