India’s last state-operated telegram service bites the dust

telegraph machine

And we bid a nostalgic farewell to the first line of digital communication, reminding us that technology’s evolution is quick, brutal, and waits for no one. Another telegram operator in India will shutter its service when one of India’s state-owned telegram operators, BSNL, shuts down its telegram services next month.

The telegram has been around for ages; 144 years approximately. The U.S. only ended its telegram program seven years ago, in fact. How this ancient method of communication managed to stick it out this fair is impressive in and of itself.

With the advent of text messaging, SMS and communication conducted over smartphones, the BSNL’s general manager explains to The Christian Science Monitor that its telegraph services had been, “incurring losses of over $23 million per year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant.” 

Telegrams were once upon a time rampantly used in the history of time, adopted especially by the British, and with the advent of new technological advancements in Internet-connected mobile devices in the country taking shape rather recently in the past few years, the use of telegrams have died down. The Christian Science Monitor explains that as early as 1985, 60 million telegrams were being sent in and out of 45,000 offices in India. Telegrams were actually a legitimate medium of communication back then. It still is to this day, however just 75 offices are squeezing out a living with fewer than 1,000 employees left of 12,500 during the telegram’s heyday. It’s sort of an analogy for the position the U.S. Postal Service has found itself

So with the closure of BSNL, one more surviving reminder of a past that most Internet users never really came to know nor even used before is bidding its goodbyes. It’s only a matter of time until privately-operated telegram services follow suit, as the efficiency and availability of email – among other methods – takes the physical letter out to pasture. 

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