Comms in Australia

Click here for a full telegraph/telephone/telex timeline, in Australia and worldwide.

  1. In 1872 first telegraph cable Singapore to Adelaide, a submarine telegraph built by the British Australian Telegraph Company, founded by John Pender with his company referred to as the Eastern Telegraph Company in England.
  2. In 1877, Alfred Barratt Biggs (1825-1900), telephoner and astronomer, is credited with making the first long distance telephone call in Australia between Campbell Town and Launceston Tasmania, an 80 kilometre distance.
    In January 1878, Dr Severn successfully experimented with telephones over a mile of telegraph wire beginning at the Electric Telegraph Office at the Brisbane GPO.
  3. In 1880 first telephone lines built, and switchboard exchanges (requiring switchboard operators) opened in capital cities and large towns Australia-wide with many lines privately owned.
  4. In 1902, an alternative telegraph route to the UK (and more economical) built from the Pacific Cable Station in Southport via Norfolk Island and Fiji and Fanning Island (part of Kiribati) to Vancouver Island (just off the mainland in Canada), linking to the UK and also to the US.
  5. In 1909 the wireless company AWA Ltd formed in Sydney, becomes Australia's largest electronics and broadcasting organization.
  6. In 1912 first automatic public telephone exchange opens in Geelong Victoria, in 1915 Sydney follows, then in 1925 South Brisbane.
  7. In 1924 Marconi successfully telephones Australia from England on short-wave radio equipment and within six months of its establishment, the British GPO's system of short-wave stations using Marconi's technology had taken 65 percent of the Eastern Telegraph group's business at a fraction of its cost.

    That same year, Radio Stations (having "A" class and "B" class licenses) provide the means for government-owned and business-owned radio stations to seriously get under way in Sydney and Melbourne. They are followed by Brisbane and the Darling Downs in 1925.

  8. In 1929 Cable & Wireless formed as a merged holding company, owned 43.75 percent by Marconi's private shareholders and 56.25 percent by the Eastern Telegraph group.
  9. In 1930 Australia now permanently linked to UK by wireless telephone, the result of experiments carried on for many months between the engineers of the British and Australian post offices and AWA.
  10. In 1920s teleprinters introduced by the PMG Postmaster General's Department into the telegraph network with Australian companies using private wire teleprinters from 1933.
  11. In 1946 Overseas Telecommunications Commission formed by Commonwealth Government after WW2 to oversee all overseas telecommunications services, and inherit its facilities and resources from AWA and Cable & Wireless.
  12. In 1952 Telex introduced on a manually switched basis and converted to automatic in 1966 using an Australia wide five digit stored numbering scheme (preceded by a two-letter country code with Australia’s code being ‘AA’).
  13. Television was introduced as an experimental technology in the 1920s and 1930s, and it was not until after World War II that it was widely adopted as a form of mass communication. Then during the fifties and in the sixties, the hours people watched television in the UK and Australia were tightly controlled, with only two hours programming permitted before 1pm. In the UK until 1955 there was just one channel, the BBC.

    In 1954 the Menzies Government formally announced the introduction of the two-tiered Television system—a government-funded service run by the ABC, and two commercial services in Sydney and Melbourne, with the November 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne being a major driving force. The Nine network commenced broadcasting in Sydney on 27 October 1956, Seven network in Melbourne on 4 November, and ABC in Sydney on 5 November.

    In Brisbane, QTQ-9 commenced on 16 August 1959, BTQ-7 on 1 November, ABQ-2 on 2 November. Network 10 launched as ATV-0 in Melbourne on 1 August 1964, as TEN-10 in Sydney on 5 April 1965, and as TVQ-0 in Brisbane on 1 July 1965.

    In 2022 many of the regional stations are serviced as affiliates, Channel 9 through WIN Television in Wollongong, and Channel 10 through Southern Cross Austereo in Melbourne, although they switched networks temporarily 2015-2021.

  14. In 1960 "Crossbar" switching installed in Toowoomba, leading to subscriber trunk dialling (STD) area codes in 1971, followed by international subscriber dialling (ISD) in 1976, then ISD spreading across Australia by the end of the decade.
  15. In 1975 Telecom Australia created – the telephone division of the PMG with postal services split off into Australia Post.
  16. In 1991 Optus formed as a private company in Australia by Cable & Wireless along with other companies, becoming a second telecommunications company to provide competition to Telecom Australia in wireless and landline services.
  17. In 1993 OTC Overseas Telecommunications Commission merges with Telecom Australia, forming Telstra.

    That same year, IANA Internet Assigned Numbers Authority issues the Asia-Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC) with an initial 4 million IP addresses to allow it to become a regional IP address registry, using volunteer labour and donated facilities from a number of countries. Initially based in Tokyo.

  18. In 1997-1998 APNIC shifted from Tokyo to Brisbane. The four major Internet Service Provider (ISP) members at the time were Telstra, Optus, Connect.com.au, and Ozemail (Ozemail made its mark with Malcolm Turnbull as its chairman 1994-1999).
    In 1999 Connect.com.au, part owned by NAB and AAPT and Sirius Technologies, was fully purchased by AAPT (Australian Associated Press Telecommunications – part of News Limited, Rupert Murdoch's company).
    In 2000 Australian Associated Press sold AAPT to Telecom New Zealand.
  19. In 2005 Ozemail was purchased by iiNet in Perth.
  20. In 2010 Telecom New Zealand sold AAPT's consumer business to iiNet in Perth.
  21. In May 2011 the ISP stats showed Telstra 4 million, Optus 2¼ million, iiNet 650,000, TPG 535,000, while in other stats, from Dec 2009 Vodafone had 318,000, Dodo 240,000, iPrimus 227,000.
  22. In 2013 TPG Telecom purchased AAPT from Telecom NZ to become its wholesale and networks division.
  23. In 2015 TPG Telecom purchased iiNet.
  24. In 2020 TPG merged with Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA).

In 2020, Australia stats showed 8 million households on fixed-line broadband, 5 million users on mobile broadband (with SIM cards in their modems, laptops and tablets), and 27 million users on mobile phones / smartphones.

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