Competition for long-distance cables

A fierce struggle about telephone lines over longer distances continued for several years.

SAT and the Telegraph Board reached an agreement in 1890 on opening traffic between their networks, giving SAT’s subscribers access to the entire national telephone network. This cooperation did not, however, run smoothly, because Rikstelefon connected SAT calls only via its Stockholm office. If a SAT subscriber in Uppsala wanted to ring a Rikstelefon subscriber in the same city, the call had to go via Stockholm, which blocked lines unnecessarily.

SAT’s last major investment in long-distance cables was a twin-conductor copper cable between Stockholm and Norrköping in 1889 – the longest in the country when it opened. Two years later, Cedergren accepted an offer from Storckenfeldt for the purchase of all SAT installations situated more than 70 kilometers from the center of Stockholm, defined as Stortorget in Gamla Stan. In return, SAT was guaranteed the right to retain and construct new installations within the area for 50 years. It should be mentioned that the vast majority of Swedish subscribers at the time lived within the 70-kilometer radius.

In 1893, the Rikstelefon network opened connections with Kristiania and Copenhagen.

This was not the end of Storckenfeldt’s aggressive approach. Shortly after his appointment as director-general of the Telegraph Board, he decided that it would establish its own workshop. The board had been a major purchaser of Ericsson products but once it got its own new workshop going in 1891, orders declined considerably, if not yet completely. The Telegraph Board’s absorption of the local telephone networks did not improve the situation for L.M. Ericsson & Co.

The company had begun early on to do business abroad as well. This now became much more important – it had to build links systematically with companies in other countries, employ agents, and circulate test equipment and catalogs. Demand was increasing everywhere. Telephones offered commercial advantages and generally made life easier all around the world. And the technology was becoming more advanced each year, offering new possibilities and creating new needs.

In 1892, for the first time, the Ericsson product catalog was printed in other languages – English, German and French – but not Swedish.


Author: Svenolof Karlsson & Anders Lugn

© Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson and Centre for Business History

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