Last Telegram Will Be Sent on July 14

A blog about business and economics.
June 18 2013 5:10 AM

The Last Telegram Will Be Sent on July 14 Somewhere in India

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An employee monitors an incoming telegram at a telecommunications office in Bangalore, India, on June 13, 2013.

Photo by Manjunath Kiran/AFP/Getty Images

You probably thought the telegram was an obsolete technology that hasn't been used it years, but it turns out to be an obsolete technology that's still in use in India and will be phased out this year on July 14:

"We were incurring losses of over $23 million a year because SMS and smartphones have rendered this service redundant," Shamim Akhtar, general manager of BSNL's telegraph services, told the Monitor. 

Related to this is the fact that Peak Telegram arrived in India much later than you might think, in 1985 when "60 million telegrams were being sent and received a year in India from 45,000 offices."

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India continues to have one of the most underdeveloped telecommunications sectors in the world with just 26 percent of the population owning mobile phones last year. All in all a valuable reminder that alongside the thriving wired India you read about in Tom Friedman columns there's a vast and still overwhelmingly rural and low-tech country out there.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.