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Rugby GBT - LW Transatlantic Telephony Transmitter (1927) Source: BT




1927-2In the history of communications, Friday 7th January 1927 stands as a hugely significant milestone. It was on this day that Rugby Radio Station’s second long wave transmitter (60 kHz / call-sign ‘GBT’) opened the world’s first telephone service across the Atlantic. *

These first telephone calls came to Rugby Radio Station from London by landline. Once here, they were transmitted to the Houlton Receiving Station in Maine, USA. From there they were carried once again by landline, all the way to New York.

The return signal came via the Rocky Point Transmitting Station and was received at Wroughton Receiving Station, which was little more than a wooden hut on the outskirts of Swindon. Actually, the receiving station moved north to Cupar in Fife later that same year.

Despite the very high cost and the quality was variable due to atmospheric interference, transatlantic calls proved enormously popular. Call charges were £15 for the first three minutes (over £600 at today’s prices) and then £5 a minute from there on. The enormous expense did not put people off however and there were long queues when the booking of calls opened at 1.30pm on Wednesday 5th January 1927.

*Wroughton - LW Telephony Receiver (1927) Source: BT

EH Shaughnessy telephoning New York Source: Wireless World

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