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The End of the Commercial Telegraph? Please QRS

06/24/2013

Worldwide news media for several days have been proclaiming the impending demise of telegram in India next month. Unfortunately various reporters and news outlets seem to have conflated the words “telegram” and “telegraph,” with the result that many Morse code enthusiasts in the ham radio community have begun lamenting the occasion as the end of an era and perhaps even as another nail in CW’s coffin. Here’s what’s really happening. Citing mounting financial losses, India’s state-owned telecommunications outfit, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), is ending its telegram service in mid-July, but other telegram services in India will continue. Just the state-run service is calling it quits. It’s been many years since telegraphy was used to convey the content of a telegram in India. Today, telegrams at BSNL are routed to their destinations via the Web using computer software — essentially as e-mail. Apparently for nostalgia’s sake, however, when the last BSNL telegram in India is sent on July 15, the service will employ technology similar to that first used by the service when it began operation in 1850. British inventor and physician William O’Shaughnessy introduced telegram service in India that year, but he used a telegraphy code different from Morse’s to send the message.



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