Telecommunications in the United Kingdom

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Until 1982, the main civil telecommunications system in the UK was a state monopoly known (since reorganisation in 1969) as Post Office Telecommunications. Broadcasting of radio and television was a duopoly of the BBC and Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA): these two organisations controlled all broadcast services, and directly owned and operated the broadcast transmitter sites. Mobile phone and Internet services did not then exist.

The civil telecomms monopoly ended when Mercury Communications arrived in 1983. The Post Office system evolved into British Telecom and was privatised in 1984.

Broadcast transmitters, which belonged to the BBC and IBA, were privatised during the 1990s and now belong to National Grid Wireless, VT Communications and Arqiva.

Regulation of communications has changed many times during the same period, and most of the bodies have been merged into Ofcom, the independent regulator and competition authority for the UK communications industries [3].


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