In 1885 there were only 3800 telephone subscribers in London and less than io,000 in the rest of the United Kingdom, and telephonic services were available in only about 75 towns, while in the same year the American Bell Telephone Company had over 134,000 subscribers.
The two companies amalgamated as the United Telephone Company Ltd.
The licence of the National Telephone Company was extended so as to be co-extensive with that of a competitive licence for any locality on condition that the company should afford intercommunication with the telephone systems of the new licensees.
Speech has been habitually transmitted for business purposes over a distance of 1542.3 m., viz., over the lines of the American Telegraph and Telephone Company from Omaha to Boston.
The United Telephone Company confined its operations to London; subsidiary companies were formed to operate in the provinces.
The Edison Telephone Company of London was formed.
Large as this progress was it would have been much greater if the Telephone Company had been granted adequate powers to put wires underground and thus instal a complete metallic circuit in place of the single wire, earthreturn, circuit which it was constrained to employ.
The effect of the unsettled policy of the Post Office until 1905 and of the difficulties created by the local authorities was that the National Telephone Company was never able to do its best to develop the enterprise on the most efficient lines.
The draft agreement between the government and the National Telephone Company to carry out the policy of 1892 was submitted to parliament and led to much discussion.
The National Telephone Company again applied to parliament for powers to lay wires underground; public discontent with inadequate telephone services was expressed, and at the same time the competition of the telephone with the Post Office telegraph became more manifest.