Jersey Telecom

Jersey Telecom

Jersey Telecom is the former monopoly incumbent operator in the Bailiwick of Jersey. Jersey is incorporated into the UK National Telephone Numbering Plan [] area codes of 44 1534 for landlines and 44 7797 for Jersey Telecom mobiles, 44 7700 for Cable and Wireless mobiles and +44 7829 for Jersey Airtel mobiles. It is not connected to Jersey Post, the island's postal service.


The first telephone exchange was opened in Jersey in 1888 by [ the Western Counties and South Wales Telephone Company] but the service was suspended in 1891. A telephone number first featured in a Jersey Times and British Press advert –" H Elliot’s Springfield Nursery & 34 King Street Telephone No 18" - on 18 August 1888. The exchange which was installed on the first floor of 66 Bath Street on the corner of Minden Place was taken over in 1895 when the company was incorporated into the National Telephone Company (NTC) and is very close to the present day main exchange building in St Helier. This exchange was moved to 2 New Street in 1901. The Jersey exchange network was taken over in 1912 by the British General Post Office (GPO) when the NTC licence expired, and then comprised some 14 [ magneto] exchanges and 1,313 subscribers. The GPO offered the system to the States of Jersey but the offer was declined. The GPO managed the system until it was again offered to and then bought by the States of Jersey in 1923 for £32,000 (approximately £1.3M today), and named the States Telephone Department. On takeover there were still 14 exchanges with a total of 1,598 subscribers. The Post Office awarded the States a 30 year licence with a royalty of 10% of revenue per annum. The first Engineer Manager was [ Alfred R Bennett] MIEE, a renowned telephone engineer who had previously assisted the States of Guernsey and Kingston-upon-Hull Corporation set up their telephone systems. Off island communications continued to be operated by the GPO.

The St Helier magneto exchange, based at New Street, St Helier, was replaced in 1926 by a new [] type exchange installed in a new building in Minden Place in 1926 and renamed Central exchange. This exchange also subsumed Samares exchange at the same time. St Mary's exchange was merged with St Ouen's exchange in 1927. Exchanges at Five Oaks, Trinity, Gorey, St Aubin and Millbrook were converted from magneto to CB10 during 1938, some moving to new buildings at the same time.

The only communications off-island were via telegraph cables from 1858, when the [ Channel Island Telegraph Company] opened the first telegraph cable to the Isle of Portland via Guernsey and Alderney, up until 1931. In 1931 the GPO converted the former German Borkum - Azores telegraph cable that had been cut and diverted to serve Jersey via Guernsey and Dartmouth in 1914 for military signals, to a single telephone voice channel connected via Guernsey and Exeter to London. This followed the decision to close the military telegraph circuit from the UK to Rennes via St Malo in Brittany. This cable was increased in capacity through the use of multiplex equipment to two circuits by 1933, then a third was added in 1935. By 1936 five circuits were available between the islands and six circuits from Guernsey to the UK, three being provided by high frequency wireless circuits, at the time the longest distance circuits in use anywhere. A new submarine cable from Dartmouth to Jersey via Guernsey was laid by the GPO in the summer of 1939 this provided 12 multiplexed channels which were shared with Guernsey in addition to the wireless circuits. The provision of this new cable necessitated the construction of a separate repeater station at Trinity Gardens, St Helier to accommodate the multiplex equipment. In 1940 the War Office decided to install a second cable to serve the British Expeditionary Force in France in case the cables in the north English Channel were cut. A further cable between Fliquet and Pirou, Normandy was installed providing a 1 + 9 multiplexed circuits with equipment provided by Siemens Brothers. Although the Jersey UK section was put into service briefly, the German invasion prevented the French circuits from being used beyond basic testing.

In 1940, during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, all communication with the outside world was stopped except under licence from the occupation forces. Communications to France were restored by the Germans after the cables were severed by the departing British forces and GPO engineers. The German army took over as many as 2000 of the lines and cables in the network but the civilian exchanges were allowed to continue in operation.

After the war trunk services were rapidly restored and telegraph services were connected in days using military wireless equipment. The cables were quickly picked up and the pre-war circuits put back into service. The GPO upgraded the cable capacity in 1952 and opened in the spring of 1953 a new trunk manual board in an [] over the Telephone Department offices. The GPO installed new cables to cater for increased demand in 1958 Tucton Bridge, Bournemouth to Greve D'Azette and in 1968 Tucton Bridge to Greve D'Azette. A further analogue multiplex repeatered submarine cable from Bournemouth to Greve D'Azette was added jointly by the Telecommunications Board and recently branded British Telecom in 1982 after the takeover of the trunk system by the States of Jersey in 1973.

The telephone services experienced a post-war boom for demand and it quickly became apparent that the existing exchange network was not sufficient. It was decided to rationalize the network and reduce the number of switches. Strangely, it was decided to continue with manual switchboards. The first exchanges to be converted were St Ouen and St Peter which were amalgamated to form Western exchange. The equipment at this exchange was supplied by Ericsson's of Beeston (later Plessey) and was an export cancellation, having originally been destined for Ethopia. Northern Exchange which absorbed Sion, Trinity, St John and St Lawrence exchanges, was opened in 1951, Southern exchange which replaced St Aubin's exchange (La Moye was absorbed into St Aubin's exchange in 1946), in 1952 and Eastern exchange absorbing Five Oaks and Gorey (La Rocque exchange having been absorbed into Gorey in April 1946) in 1955. A relief exchange for Central was opened directly opposite in Lyric Hall, Cattle Street in 1953. all these exchanges were of the CB10 type supplied by GEC Telecommunications of Coventry. Later, on the opening of Central automatic exchange, the '-ern' suffix was removed because of the potential for confusion over poor transmission lines.

Jersey's first automatic Strowger exchange a GEC SE50 Type (otherwise the [ GPO 4000 Type] ) was finally brought into operation on 1 November 1959 with a capacity for 9,000 lines. The new automatic exchange absorbed Millbrook exchange on 30 March 1960. Automated information services were introduced in 1960 providing subscribers with Mail Boat arrival data and a Daily Diary service, a Speaking clock service was introduced in 1964 using a system provided by Ericsson of Beeston. Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was introduced in Jersey in 1966 which meant that most UK calls could now be dialled direct instead of having to go through an operator. The same year South exchange was converted to automatic working with a further GEC supplied Strowger switch fitted with GEC proprietary dustproofing, an 'improvement' later abandoned as unsuccessful. Between 1968 and 1969 [ public telephone kiosks] were converted to the GPO pay on answer (POA) phone box type to enable STD.

On 1 January 1973 the States of Jersey took over the trunk exchange and cable network from the Post Office Telephones and assumed a monopoly for the supply of telecommunications services on the island under the Telecommunications (Jersey) Law 1972. This followed on from the takeover of postal services in 1969 after the Harold Wilson government's restructuring of the GPO. The maintenance of the postal telegraph services was taken over by the newly formed States Telecommunications Board.

Automatic exchanges were also commissioned at the East and North of the Island in 1975 but of the ITT Italian subsidiary FACE Standard Pentaconta crossbar switch type. This new equipment could accept tone dialling and allowed the introduction of telephones with keypads instead of a dial. Two further Philips PRX205 electronic exchanges were introduced in 1975 in Central as a relief exchange to the Strowger unit and 1976 at West due to a shortage of lines on the Ericsson of Beeston CB switchboard.

1976 also saw the introduction of International Subscriber Dialling (ISD) enabling local subscribers to dial direct to over 250 million telephones in 26 countries. However, ISD was not available from coin boxes until 1981 when POA boxes were replaced.

The 80s were growth years for the Telecommunications Board despite the recession which hit the United Kingdom. Many new services were introduced during this time, the most significant of which was the introduction of System X Digital Exchanges island-wide. This computer controlled system had been developed for British Telecom and had the obvious advantage of allowing Jersey to be completely compatible with the UK network. 1983 saw the 60,000th telephone connected in Jersey which showed a 20,000 increase in just 7 years. All exchanges were replaced with System X or System X remote concentrators by 1994.

In 1984 the States Telecommunications Board relaxed its monopoly and began to allow some privately purchased equipment to be connected to the network subject to BABT type approval to ensure that the service was not put at any risk.

During the same period extensive developments were made to the communication links out of the Island. Microwave links were put in place between Jersey and both the UK and France to ensure service in the unlikely event of a breakdown of the main cable communication links. 1989 saw the introduction of the first fibre optic cable between Guernsey and England with the second fibre optic cable running from Jersey to Goonhilly in the UK put in place in 1994. This cable was at one time the longest unrepeated optical fibre sea cable in the world. Both cables can carry more than 32,000 simultaneous calls. Jersey Telecom operates an SDH ring service over these two cables.

In 2000 the Jersey Electricity Company ( [ JE] ) installed a second submarine electricity supply cable to Surville in France and also from Jersey to the Guernsey Electricity Company at Barkers Quarry forming the Channel Islands Electric Grid ( [ CIEG] ). This new cable contained a number of fibre optic telecommunications cables massively increasing the off-island capacity. Irrefutable Rights of Use have since been purchased from the CIEG by Newtel Solutions, Cable and Wireless and Jersey Telecom Limited (JT) to enable use as telecommunications circuits.

In November 2006 JT announced that it was to install a new high capacity optical submarine cable from Dartmouth to L’Ancresse Bay on the north west tip of Guernsey. The cable was commissioned in May 2008 and connects to Jersey and France over the CIEG cables maintaining the SDH ring. This cable, called Project Liberty by JT, will augment the existing submarine cables and is in direct response to a similar cable installed by Cable and Wireless between Porthcurno and L’Ancresse Bay, Guernsey and Saints Bay, Guernsey and Lannion in Brittany for its Project Hugo initiative.

Mobile networks

In 1979 Jersey's first Radio paging network was introduced with 600 pagers issued in the first year of operation. This service is now operated by Jersey Airport [] under its telecommunications licence. Jersey Airport also operates the island's TETRA mobile network on behalf of the local emergency services.

Jersey Telecom's first analogue mobile service was introduced in 1987 in collaboration with Cellnet (now O2) and ran until June 1999. The network supported over 3,000 local customers by the time Jersey Telecom introduced its own GSM digital network at the end of 1994. GPRS was made available under the brand name "Pepper" during 2003 and MMS messaging in 2004.

In 2005 the [ Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority] (JCRA), the Jersey Telecommunications Regulator, in cooperation with Ofcom, the UK telecommunications authority with responsibility for spectrum allocation in the Channel Islands under the Communications Act 2003 extended by Order in Council, allotted a 3G spectrum license to Jersey Telecom and 2G and 3G spectrum licenses to Cable and Wireless Jersey, Jersey Airtel and COLT Telecom Group plc to operate mobile services in Jersey. Jersey Telecom introduced its 3G services in July 2006.

On 13 September 2006 Cable & Wireless Jersey introduced its Sure mobile network operating both 2G and 3G services.

In May 2007 Jersey Airtel announced a partnership with Vodafone and launched a new brand [ Airtel-Vodafone] in preparation for its network launch. The Airtel-Vodafone network went live on 28 June 2007.


On 1st December 2002, the States of Jersey Telecommunications Board announced the launch of Wave Telecom, a wholly owned subsidiary operating under a Class II licence from the Guernsey Telecommunications Regulator the [ Office of Utility Regulation] (OUR) as a new telecommunications provider in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

On 1 January 2003 the States of Jersey's Telecommunications Board was corporatized and the telephone system was passed into a limited liability company, Jersey Telecom Limited, with 100% of the share capital retained by the States, which was granted a Class III licence by the JCRA to operate a telecommunications system in the island. At the same time the new [ Telecommunications (Jersey) Law 2002] abolished the States monopoly on the provision of telecommunications in Jersey allowing full competition for the first time since the days of the NTC.

The JCRA has actively promoted competition in Jersey granting a Class II licence to [ Newtel Solutions] in January 2003 which provides cable television services in Jersey and data services such as leased lines and ISP services in both Jersey and Guernsey for the business and residential markets.

In December 2003 Cable and Wireless Jersey was granted a Class II licence to provide fixed and mobile telephony services. In 2005, the JCRA also granted Jersey Airtel (a subsidiary of Bharti) a Class II licence to provide mobile telecommunications services in the island. The JCRA has also licensed a number of Class I operators to provide ISP and related services.

The PrimeTalk row

In September 2004, Jersey Telecom announced it was scrapping the discount line rate PrimeTalk which allowed the over 65s subscriber line rental for only £1.42 per month and the maximum rate for local calls at £0.05. It proposed the introduction of a "low user" tariff to replace it, which would have captured all demographic groups in need of support. However, this proposal caused outrage in both the OAP lobby groups and the States who own the company. As of February 2007, Jersey Telecom has not scrapped it.


Jersey people are able to obtain dialup Internet services from Jersey Telecom, LocalDial (now part of Newtel Solutions) and other local providers. Broadband ADSL Internet access is also offered by both Jersey Telecom and Newtel Solutions as a wholesale reseller of the Jersey Telecom "Rapid" branded product. Some UK providers, such as AOL, are only available as dialup because of the cost of backhaul to the UK Point of Presence. There are also
leased line offerings starting at 64 kbit/s and an on-demand ISDN Internet access plan. Jersey Telecom has also recently introduced an SDSL product range.

Currently, JT operates a single speed ADSL offering both to wholesale and retail consumers of 2 Mb/s downlink and 384 kb/s uplink. Only contention ratios vary between its various product offerings from 20:1 up to 50:1. Its SDSL product has a standard 5:1 contention ratio.

In 2008 Jersey Airtel entered the broadband market using a 3G USB 'dongle'. The service is competitively priced and is nomadic, requiring no fixed connection. The present service offers up to 1.8 Mb/s.

Mobile Number Portability

In the summer of 2006 after a full public consultation, the JCRA directed all Jersey mobile telecommunications operators to introduce Number Portability (NP) in order to stimulate innovation and competition in the mobile market. Initially the operators worked together to select an NP provider but in October JT unilaterally withdrew from the process and following a further direction from the JCRA, challenged the NP requirement in the Royal Court of Jersey. However, the action was withdrawn when an out of court agreement was reached with the JCRA to introduce NP concurrently with Guernsey mobile operators in cooperation with the Guernsey telecommunications regulator, the Office of Utility Regulation.

The process was again launched in February 2008 with an implementation date of 1 December 2008. The supplier for the system is the Dutch company [ PortingXS] , who was selected after a competitive tender process.


The company is sometimes referred to publicly as "Telecoms" in Jersey, the name by which the former States Telecommunications Board was long known but is now more generally referred to as JT in the telecoms industry and politics.

In 2006 the States of Jersey Council of Ministers proposed the sale of Jersey Telecom Limited. The States opened up this proposal to public consultation and commissioned reports from UK Telecommunications Consultants [ Analysys Mason] , the JCRA and JT on the proposed sale. In addition the States' [ Scrutiny Panel] also examined the issues surrounding the proposed sale. These reports were submitted to the States in February 2007 and tabled for discussion. After a brief debate the States decided to conduct a cost/benefit analysis on the proposed optional disposal configurations, including the break-up of the company. However, on 29 January 2008, following comments in the Scrutiny report and market uncertainty, the Minister for Treasury and Resources decided to withdraw the proposition and defer any debate for "at least 3 years".

External links

* [ Jersey Telecom] (JavaScript required)
* [ Wave Telecom] (Jersey Telecom's Guernsey subsidiary)
* [ JerseyInsight] (Jersey Telecom's web portal)
* [ JCRA] (The Island's Telecommunication Regulator)


* [ Newtel Solutions]
* [ Cable and Wireless Jersey]
* [ Airtel-Vodafone Jersey]

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