December in Dubai

Telephony: Sender Pays

In many ways the telephone leaned heavily on the telegraph service for its service model, which, in turn, leaned on the postal service, establishing a provenance for the telephone service model that stretched back over some centuries to at least the 1680s and London’s Penny Post, if not earlier.

The postal service model that gained ascendency over the preceding centuries was one in which the original sender of the letter paid for the entire service of letter delivery. If the postal service that received the letter in the first place needed to use the services of a different postal service to complete the delivery, neither the sender nor the intended recipient were aware of it. The postal services were meant to divide the money received from the sender to deliver the letter, and apportion it between themselves to compensate each service provider for undertaking its part in the delivery of the letter.

The telephone service, for the most part, operates in a very similar fashion. The caller pays for the entire cost of the call, and the called party pays nothing.

Of course, the called party rarely paid nothing. Perhaps no additional charge to receive, but then they had subscribed to the service with the purpose of receiving. So it was that the “free” reception of letters in a box on side of the road, was never akin to the paid reception of calls at a subscribers telephone.

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