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Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Sat 19-Nov-16 03:11:24
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Line Rental in Parliament - 1920's Style


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A google search (for something else) happened to turn up an excerpt from Hansard from 1926, that talks about "Telephone charges". It made for some fascinating reading...
It is laid down in the Regulations that within a mile and a half of an exchange or measuring point the annual charge is £ 5 a year.

That is a fixed charge, in addition to which, of course, there is a large revenue arising from the fact that you have for all practical purposes in rural areas to pay 2d, or 3d, or even more, every time you make a call on the telephone.


So £5pa, provided you are within 1.5 miles of the exchange. That, incidentally, is equivalent to £274pa today, or £23pm.

What if you were more than 1.5 miles from the exchange? I'm glad you asked.
... for every furlong beyond the one and a half miles from the local exchange £ 1 per annum is charged; that is to say, that you have to pay, in addition to the £ 5, £ 8 a year for every mile beyond the one and a half miles allowed.


Wow. If you have a "rural" line that sits 5 miles from the exchange, you could have ended up paying £33pa line rental - £1800pa today, or £150pm.

They did things differently back then. No subsidising those on long copper lines - who today want to pay less for the lower speeds!

The scheme that led to these charges - the 1922 rural exchanges scheme - looks to have been "successful". 900 exchanges, serving 14,000 lines, were opened. But it cost £21m, and incurred losses of £50 per subscriber per year.

But perhaps things aren't always different. Just like FoD, it seems these higher charges need to be paid again and again:
But the Post Office proceeds on the hard and fast rule that if you are beyond the mile and a half limit you must pay, as I have already said, at the rate of £ 1 a year for every furlong of extra distance. No consideration is given at all to the fact that poles and wires [already] pass close to the house of the person who wishes to have the telephone installed and that, consequently, very little extra cost is involved in connecting the telephone.


Or perhaps you'd like to be able to use your phone overnight? That'll cost more, of course! ...
a letter from the Vicar of King's Bromley, Burton-on-Trent, who says:— I feel sure that the following facts may be of service to you: I am about one and a half miles from the exchange and I am charged as follows— Rental per annum, for a party line, £ 9 10s.; additional for all night service, £1; additional for extension bell, 6s.; total, £ 10 16s


The vicar was paying the equivalent of £50pm line rental.

There is also the usual comparison with the superb service going on elsewhere in the world:
In England we have had £ 70,000,000 of capital expenditure on telephones serving 60,000 subscribers, while in America they have a capital expenditure of £ 700,000,000 on telephones serving 400,000 persons. It is interesting to note that in the City of New York there are actually more telephones than there are in the whole of Great Britain.


... a situation that wasn't going to change in a few decades.

There are many more gems in there, including some anecdotes from India, but I will finish on this:
But in this country, on the part of the Treasury and I may say of the Civil Service generally, for very many years there was a permanent hostility to the telephone.

For many years in the Colonial Office we had no telephone at all because it was thought to be an American invention.

During many years that I was at the Colonial Office there was a telephone in one obscure cupboard on the first floor. At any time that any member of the staff was rung up he had to be sent for in his office and had to go down to this obscure cupboard to speak on the telephone.

I think the late Mr. Joseph Chamberlain was the first statesman at the Colonial Office who succeeded in abstracting from the Treasury a desk telephone for his private secretary and afterwards desk telephones for his assistant secretaries. That was the temper in which our official regulators always regarded the telephone.


The bean counters in the treasury at it again.
Standard User WWWombat
(knowledge is power) Sat 19-Nov-16 03:15:03
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Re: Line Rental in Parliament - 1920's Style


[re: WWWombat] [link to this post]
 
I'll add one extra bit...

Do you have a hankering for nationalisation of the telephone system? Here's the opinion based on experience back in 1926...
It is clear from what the noble Earl said that what we are suffering from at the present moment is the nationalisation of the service, because when we had the National Telephone Company we had quite as good a service and at much less cost.

That is shown, I think, also by the fact that at the present moment the municipality of Hull has its own telephone service, which is worked by the Corporation under a licence from the Postmaster-General, and they report a profit of £ 11,400 a year after paying royalties to the Government.

That shows that private enterprise is evidently much better than Government enterprise.
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