Ericsson's activities in Poland began in 1901, when Poland was still under Russian rule. In that year, telephone operations started in Warsaw under the management of Telefon AB Cedergren, which was a subsidiary of Svensk-Dansk-Ryska Telefon AB, which in turn was a subsidiary of SAT.
Network operations in Warsaw, which was a profitable business for SAT, ceased in August 1915, when German troops occupied the city and confiscated the network.
The occupation lasted just over three years, but when the Germans retreated in November 1918, Telefon AB Cedergren once more obtained the right to operate its network. The future was uncertain, however, since Poland after the war once again became an independent country and Swedish companies in the new Poland did not hold any concession rights. Negotiations were therefore initiated between the Swedish company and the Polish government on the establishment of a new telephone operating company.
The negotiations resulted in the Polish government and Telefon AB Cedergren establishing the new telephone operating company Polska Akcyjna Spólka (PAST) in 1922. Telefon AB Cedergren's share was acquired the following year in conjunction with the merger of SAT and Ericsson.
Telephone operations in Warsaw and later in several other Polish cities were one of Ericsson's most profitable businesses during the 1920s and 1930s. Because PAST only operated in the cities and did not provide service in rural areas, costs for network construction could be kept down. Because the Polish government was involved, rates could also be kept relatively high. In addition, the number of subscribers increased sharply by as much as 350 percent from 1920 to 1930.
During the 1930s, PAST was Ericsson's largest telephone operator and clearly the most profitable. The company used mainly Ericsson equipment in its network, which was very important during the depression years in the early 1930s when exports to other markets declined sharply.
Ericsson also began manufacturing in Poland through the company Ericsson Polska Akcyjna Spólka Elektryczna (PASE), which was established in 1924. During the 1930s, import duties for telephone equipment were raised, resulting in greater profitability for the company.
Activities in Poland came to an abrupt halt with the outbreak of World War II. Parts of the network were taken over by Russia and Germany. The German Nazi government's increasingly brutal occupation eventually made all forms of business impossible, and the Nazis? systematic destruction of Warsaw some years later destroyed much of PAST's property.
After the war, the communists came to power, and PAST and PASE were nationalized in 1946. Negotiations on compensation were started between the Polish government and Ericsson. These negotiations were led by Sigfrid Häggberg, who had headed PASE for many years and been imprisoned by the Gestapo during the war.
An agreement was reached in the autumn of 1947 that resulted in acceptable compensation for Ericsson, but the loss of such a profitable operation was nonetheless tangible.
Over the ensuing 40 years of communist rule in Poland, Ericsson received only occasional orders. A crossbar switching station for 9,000 subscribers, for example, was taken into operation in the city of Lodz in 1969.
In 1996, however, the company delivered the first GSM network, and on January 1 of the following year, a local Ericsson company was established. There was one product area, however, for which Poland was a major market during the 1990s: private radio using EDACS (Enhanced Digital Access System), a computer controlled digital trunking radio communications system
Author: Mats Wickman