Saturday, December 30, 2017
After 171 years of existence, telegram services were permanently stopped in Belgium as of yesterday. The service was launched in 1846, and about 9000 telegrams were sent across the country from January 2017 to November 2017.
On December 12, Belgian telecommunication company Proximus, who provided telegram services in the country, announced they “will definitively end [our] telegram service” on December 29. Jack Hamande, board member of the Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications, said, “It is mainly 10 customers using the telegram in Belgium today […] in finance, judicial services and insurance”.
The first telegram line was laid from Belgium’s capital Brussels to Antwerp. Usage of telegram has decreased enormously over the decades. According to Proximus’s statistics, about 1.5 million telegrams were sent during the early 1980s, with many telegrams coming from Italy, but the number dropped to fifty thousand in the early 2010s. Sending a twenty-word message via telegram in Belgium would cost around €16 (about US$19). Hamande said, “Most of the current users of telegram will shift to registered mail […] we see no reason to force the company to maintain this service.”
Telegram is still functional in Italy. It was invented in Great Britain in the 1830s, but was stopped there in 1982. The United States stopped telegram services in 2006, and the last telegram in India was sent on July 14, 2013 which began in 1850. In the mid-1980s, about 600 thousand telegrams were sent across India each day.
“If you ask young people […] they don’t know what a telegram is”, Hamande said.