JT Group Limited

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Jersey Telecom Group Limited
Trading name JT
Industry Telecommunications
Founded 1888
Headquarters Saint Helier, Jersey and St Peter Port, Guernsey
Key people Graeme Millar
(CEO)
John Stares
(Non-Executive Chairman)
Products
Services Data center services
Owners States of Jersey
Subsidiaries Jersey Telecom Limited
Wave Telecom Limited
Wave Data Services Limited
Jersey Telecom (UK) Limited
Website www.jtglobal.com

JT Group Limited (doing business as JT) is the parent company of several subsidiaries including Jersey Telecom Limited and Wave Telecom Limited. Jersey Telecom is the former monopoly operator in the Bailiwick of Jersey.

JT provides telecommunications, Internet access and other services, mostly within the Channel Islands.[1]

History[edit]

The arms on the Minden Place exchange, dated 1933

19th century to the Occupation[edit]

The first telephone exchange was opened in Jersey in 1888 by the Western Counties and South Wales Telephone Company[2] but the service was suspended in 1891. A telephone number first featured in a Jersey Times and British Press advert – H Elliot’s Springfield Nursery & 34 King Street Telephone No 18 – on 18 August 1888. The exchange which was installed on the first floor of 66 Bath Street on the corner of Minden Place was taken over in 1895 when the company was incorporated into the National Telephone Company (NTC) and is very close to the present day main exchange building in Saint Helier. This exchange was moved to 2 New Street in 1901. The Jersey exchange network was taken over in 1912 by the British General Post Office (GPO) when the NTC licence expired, and then comprised some 14 magneto exchanges[3] and 1,313 subscribers. The GPO offered the system to the States of Jersey but the offer was declined. The GPO managed the system until it was again offered to and then bought by the States of Jersey in 1923 for £32,000 (approximately £1.3M today), and named the States Telephone Department. On takeover there were still 14 exchanges with a total of 1,598 subscribers. The Post Office awarded the States a 30 year licence with a royalty of 10% of revenue per annum. The first Engineer Manager was Alfred Rosling Bennett MIEE, a renowned telephone engineer who had previously assisted the States of Guernsey and Kingston-upon-Hull Corporation set up their telephone systems. Off island communications continued to be operated by the GPO.

The St Helier magneto exchange, based at New Street, St Helier, was replaced in 1926 by a new CB1 type exchange installed in a new building in Minden Place in 1926 and renamed Central exchange. This exchange also subsumed Samarès exchange at the same time. St Mary's exchange was merged with St Ouen's exchange in 1927. Exchanges at Five Oaks, Trinity, Gorey, St Aubin and Millbrook were converted from magneto to CB10 during 1938, some moving to new buildings at the same time.

The only communications off-island were via telegraph cables from 1858, when the Channel Island Telegraph Company opened the first telegraph cable to the Isle of Portland via Guernsey and Alderney, up until 1931. In 1931 the GPO converted the former German BorkumAzores telegraph cable that had been cut and diverted to serve Jersey via Guernsey and Dartmouth in 1914 for military signals, to a single telephone voice channel connected via Guernsey and Exeter to London. This followed the decision to close the military telegraph circuit from the UK to Rennes via St Malo in Brittany. This cable was increased in capacity through the use of multiplex equipment to two circuits by 1933, then a third was added in 1935. By 1936 five circuits were available between the islands and six circuits from Guernsey to the UK, three being provided by high frequency wireless circuits, at the time the longest distance circuits in use anywhere. A new submarine cable from Dartmouth to Jersey via Guernsey was laid by the GPO in the summer of 1939 this provided 12 multiplexed channels which were shared with Guernsey in addition to the wireless circuits. The provision of this new cable necessitated the construction of a separate repeater station at Trinity Gardens, St Helier to accommodate the multiplex equipment. In 1940 the War Office decided to install a second cable to serve the British Expeditionary Force in France in case the cables in the north English Channel were cut. A further cable between Fliquet and Pirou, Normandy was installed providing a 1 + 9 multiplexed circuits with equipment provided by Siemens Brothers. Although the Jersey UK section was put into service briefly, the German invasion prevented the French circuits from being used beyond basic testing.

In 1940, during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands, all communication with the outside world was stopped except under licence from the occupation forces. Communications to France were restored by the Germans after the cables were severed by the departing British forces and GPO engineers. The German army took over as many as 2000 of the lines and cables in the network but the civilian exchanges were allowed to continue in operation.

1950s to 1980s[edit]

After the war trunk services were rapidly restored and telegraph services were connected in days using military wireless equipment. The cables were quickly picked up and the pre-war circuits put back into service. The GPO upgraded the cable capacity in 1952 and opened in the spring of 1953 a new trunk manual board in an extension over the Telephone Department offices. The GPO installed new cables to cater for increased demand in 1958 Tucton Bridge, Bournemouth to Grève D'Azette and in 1968 Tucton Bridge to Grève D'Azette. A further analogue multiplex repeated submarine cable from Bournemouth to Grève D'Azette was added jointly by the Telecommunications Board and recently branded British Telecom in 1982 after the takeover of the trunk system by the States of Jersey in 1973.

The telephone services experienced a post-war boom for demand and it quickly became apparent that the existing exchange network was not sufficient. It was decided to rationalize the network and reduce the number of switches. Strangely, it was decided to continue with manual switchboards. The first exchanges to be converted were St Ouen and St Peter which were amalgamated to form Western exchange. The equipment at this exchange was supplied by Ericsson's of Beeston (later Plessey) and was an export cancellation, having originally been destined for Ethiopia. Northern Exchange which absorbed Sion, Trinity, St John and St Lawrence exchanges, was opened in 1951, Southern exchange which replaced St Aubin's exchange (La Moye was absorbed into St Aubin's exchange in 1946), in 1952 and Eastern exchange absorbing Five Oaks and Gorey (La Rocque exchange having been absorbed into Gorey in April 1946) in 1955. A relief exchange for Central was opened directly opposite in Lyric Hall, Cattle Street in 1953. all these exchanges were of the CB10 type supplied by GEC Telecommunications of Coventry. Later, on the opening of Central automatic exchange, the '-ern' suffix was removed because of the potential for confusion over poor transmission lines.

Jersey's first automatic Strowger exchange a GEC SE50 Type (otherwise the GPO 4000 Type) was finally brought into operation on 1 November 1959 with a capacity for 9,000 lines. The new automatic exchange absorbed Millbrook exchange on 30 March 1960. Automated information services were introduced in 1960 providing subscribers with Mail Boat arrival data and a Daily Diary service, a Speaking clock service was introduced in 1964 using a system provided by Ericsson of Beeston. Subscriber Trunk Dialling (STD) was introduced in Jersey in 1966 which meant that most UK calls could now be dialled direct instead of having to go through an operator. The same year South exchange was converted to automatic working with a further GEC supplied Strowger switch fitted with GEC proprietary dust proofing, an 'improvement' later abandoned as unsuccessful. Between 1968 and 1969 public telephone kiosks[4] were converted to the GPO pay on answer (POA) phone box type to enable STD.

On 1 January 1973 the States of Jersey took over the trunk exchange and cable network from the Post Office Telephones and assumed a monopoly for the supply of telecommunications services on the island under the Telecommunications (Jersey) Law 1972. This followed on from the takeover of postal services in 1969 after the Harold Wilson government's restructuring of the GPO. The maintenance of the postal telegraph services was taken over by the newly formed States Telecommunications Board.

Automatic exchanges were also commissioned at the East and North of the Island in 1975 but of the ITT Italian subsidiary FACE Standard Pentaconta crossbar switch type. This new equipment could accept tone dialling and allowed the introduction of telephones with keypads instead of a dial. Two further Philips PRX205 electronic exchanges were introduced in 1975 in Central as a relief exchange to the Strowger unit and 1976 at West due to a shortage of lines on the Ericsson of Beeston CB switchboard.

1976 also saw the introduction of International Subscriber Dialling (ISD) enabling local subscribers to dial direct to over 250 million telephones in 26 countries. However, ISD was not available from coin boxes until July 1982 when POA boxes were replaced with Post Office CT22B type electronic payphones. In 1979 the Board introduced a Motorola single channel radio paging system, which was upgraded to a two channel system. It is now operated by the Jersey Airport Department of Electronics.

1980s to today[edit]

The 80s were growth years for the Telecommunications Board despite the recession which hit the United Kingdom. Many new services were introduced during this time, the most significant of which was the introduction of System X exchanges island-wide. This computer-controlled system had been developed for British Telecom and had the obvious advantage of allowing Jersey to be completely compatible with the UK network. 1983 saw the 60,000th telephone connected in Jersey which showed a 20,000 increase in just 7 years. All exchanges were replaced with System X or System X remote concentrators by 1994.

In 1984 the States Telecommunications Board relaxed its monopoly and began to allow some privately purchased equipment to be connected to the network subject to BABT type approval to ensure that the service was not put at any risk. This was further relaxed in 1996 to include PABX and public pay-phones.

During the same period extensive developments were made to the communication links out of the Island. Microwave links were put in place between Jersey and both the UK (IOW) and France to ensure service in the unlikely event of a repeat of a breakdown of all the main cable communication links which occurred during 1977 and 1979. 1989 saw the introduction of the first fibre optic cable between Guernsey and England with the second fibre optic cable running from Jersey to Goonhilly in the UK put in place in 1994. This cable was at one time the longest unrepeated optical fibre sea cable in the world. Both cables can carry more than 32,000 simultaneous calls. JT operates an SDH ring service over these two cables.

In 2000 the Jersey Electricity Company installed a second submarine electricity supply cable to Surville in France and also from Jersey to the Guernsey Electricity Company at Barkers Quarry forming the Channel Islands Electric Grid. This new cable contained a number of fibre optic telecommunications cables massively increasing the off-island capacity. Irrefutable Rights of Use have since been purchased from the CIEG by Newtel Solutions, Cable and Wireless and JT Group Limited (JT) to enable use as telecommunications circuits. In December 2002 JT was granted licences by the Office of Utility Regulation to operate fixed and mobile telecommunications services to, from and within the Bailiwick of Guernsey and was known as Wave Telecom.

In 2006 the States of Jersey Council of Ministers proposed the sale of JT Limited. The States opened up this proposal to public consultation and commissioned reports from UK Telecommunications Consultants Analysys Mason, the JCRA and JT on the proposed sale. In addition the States' Scrutiny Panel also examined the issues surrounding the proposed sale. These reports were submitted to the States in February 2007 and tabled for discussion. After a brief debate the States decided to conduct a cost/benefit analysis on the proposed optional disposal configurations, including the break-up of the company. However, on 29 January 2008, following comments in the Scrutiny report and market uncertainty, the Minister for Treasury and Resources decided to withdraw the proposition and defer any debate for "at least 3 years"[citation needed]. In the meantime a review of the JCRA's powers under Telecommunications (Jersey) Law 2002 was recommended and this was undertaken during 2008 by consultants LECG.

In November 2006 JT announced that it was to install a new high capacity optical submarine cable from Dartmouth to L'Ancresse Bay on the north west tip of Guernsey. The cable was commissioned in May 2008 and connects to Jersey and France over the CIEG cables maintaining the SDH ring. This cable, called Project Liberty by JT, will augment the existing submarine cables and is in direct response to a similar cable installed by Cable and Wireless between Porthcurno and L'Ancresse Bay, Guernsey and Saints Bay, Guernsey and Lannion in Brittany for its Project Hugo initiative.

In November 2009 the JT board announced its restructuring plans that would require 20% to 25% reduction in workforce, blaming competition and the economic environment for the necessary efficiency changes. Up to 80 posts would be axed in addition to the 35 already announced through a voluntary redundancy scheme. The company also closed its Navitas subsidiary that had provided mobile connectivity to cruise liners as part of the restructuring. At the same time it announced that its CEO would be replaced early in 2010, the incumbent, Bob Lawrence, who had been at the helm of JT since 1991 would step down in favour of Graeme Millar, formerly Chief Commercial Officer of Mobile TeleSystems, the Russian mobile operator.

In April 2010 JT relaunched its Next Generation Networking (NGN) programme which had run into technical difficulties the previous autumn. The equipment supplied by UTStarcom will eventually replace its System X exchanges and its existing Marconi Electronic Systems Multi-Service Access Nodes (MSANs). By October 2011 all telephone lines (with the exception of ISDN) were provided over the NGN. This move will enable the company to lower cost and to add new NGN features to its services.

In 2010 and 2011 JT began trialing Europe’s first residential gigabit broadband connection at two Jersey locations (Castle Quay and Portelet) and one in Guernsey (Royal Terrace). It also, has announced its first major acquisition (ekit.com) and opened its sixth CI based data centre.

In September 2011, Jersey Telecom re-branded as JT.

In December 2011, JT Group opened the first CI based telecommunications research and development facility in Jersey where international telecommunications company UT Starcom has based its European operation. Early the following January JT was controversially given funds from the States fiscal development fund to part fund the roll-out of its all fibre network. The remaining funding will be from a reduced shareholder dividend.

On the 31 August 2012, the last System X switch was decommissioned when the final tranche of ISDN subscribers were transferred to the UT Starcom softswitch.

Operations[edit]

Mobile networks[edit]

In 1979 Jersey's first radio paging network was introduced using a Motorola campus type system, Jersey being small enough for such a system. Over 600 pagers were issued in the first year of operation. It was upgraded in 1986 to a two channel system and in 1987 text messaging was added. This service is now operated by Jersey Airport under its telecommunications licence. Jersey Airport also operates the island's TETRA mobile network on behalf of the local emergency services.

JT's first analogue mobile service was introduced in 1987 in collaboration with Cellnet (now O2) and ran until June 1999. The network supported over 3,000 local customers by the time JT introduced its own GSM digital network at the end of 1994. GPRS was made available under the brand name Pepper during 2003 and MMS messaging in 2004.

JT in Queen Street

In 2005 the Jersey Competition Regulatory Authority (JCRA), the Jersey Telecommunications Regulator, in cooperation with Ofcom, the UK telecommunications authority with responsibility for spectrum allocation in the Channel Islands under the Communications Act 2003 and Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 extended by Order in Council, allotted a 3G spectrum license to JT and 2G and 3G spectrum licenses to Cable and Wireless Jersey, Jersey Airtel and COLT Telecom Group plc to operate mobile services in Jersey. The COLT Jersey company was later purchased by Marathon Telecom Limited which now holds the spectrum license. JT introduced its 3G services in July 2006.

JT are presently providing a 14.4 M bits/sec service using high speed download packet access.

On 13 September 2006 Cable & Wireless Jersey introduced its Sure mobile network operating both 2G and 3G services.

In May 2007 Jersey Airtel announced a partnership with Vodafone and launched a new brand Airtel-Vodafone in preparation for its network launch. The Airtel-Vodafone network went live on 28 June 2007. Airtel-Vodafone now also offers a wireless landline product enabling users to have 01534 numbers connected through its mobile network. This product does not permit roaming outside the Channel Islands.

Wave Telecom[edit]

JT Group has operated in the Baliwick of Guernsey since 2002 through the subsidiary company “Wave Telecom Limited” A wholly owned subsidiary of the JT Group, Wave Telecom Limited was granted licences by the Office of Utility Regulation to operate fixed and mobile telecommunications services to, from and within the Bailiwick of Guernsey. On 31 January 2012, Wave Telecom was rebranded as “JT” to bring it into alignment with the other JT companies.

JT Wholesale[edit]

The JT Group launched JT Wholesale in 2007 to provide mobile services off-island as part of its diversification strategy. JT Wholesale provides a number of mobile telephony related services including global text messaging services, roaming services and secure data hosting. JT Wholesale also provides services to other licensed operators on the island. Currently (August 2013) JT's wholesale access is coming under review by the island's regulator. This proposes Wholesale Line Rental and changes to its private circuit products as well as resolving the lack of wholesale access to its new fibre network.

Internet connectivity[edit]

Broadband ADSL Internet access is offered by JT, Newtel and Sure. JT also offers an SDSL wholesale and retail service range. JT offers its ADSL services both to wholesale and retail consumers, the majority of which take the 2 Mbit/s downlink and 384 kbit/s uplink configuration however speeds up to 20Mbit/s downstream are available. The contention ratios vary between its various service offerings from 20:1 (business) up to 50:1 (residential). Its SDSL service has a standard 10:1 contention ratio. In 2008 Airtel-Vodafone, and later Sure, entered the broadband market using a 3G USB ‘dongle’. In April 2009 JT announced its 3G 7•2Mbit/s mobile broadband service.

JT Fibre[edit]

JT Fibre is a fibre-to-the-home service being rolled-out in Jersey with a range of Internet connection speeds offered; up to 1 gigabit (1000 Mbit/s downstream, 100 Mbit/s upstream). The project has a total budget of £41.5m with £20m provided by the States of Jersey.[5] Since the start of this project JT has come under much scrutiny as the rollout has run into difficulties. A dispute with its contractors hit the local headlines and it has recently established a new subsidiary to take the program forward. Its original target dates have been reassessed and the project is running somewhat behind schedule as of August 2013.

As of May 2012, JT Fibre Internet connections became available to customers in Grouville, with a phased roll-out planned.[6]

On 28 March 2014 JT announced a partnership with Fon. The Fon service will be available later in 2014 to JT broadband subscribers which are connected to JT Fibre.[7]

JT Lab[edit]

JT Lab provides facilities for the trial and testing of telecoms related products in small-scale and live environments.[8]

Competition[edit]

On 1 December 2002, the States of Jersey Telecommunications Board announced the launch of Wave Telecom, a wholly owned subsidiary operating under a Class II licence from the Guernsey Telecommunications Regulator the Office of Utility Regulation (OUR) as a new telecommunications provider in the Bailiwick of Guernsey.

On 1 January 2003 the States of Jersey's Telecommunications Board was corporatized and the telephone system was passed into a limited liability company, JT Group Limited, with 100% of the share capital retained by the States, which was granted a Class III licence by the JCRA to operate a telecommunications system in the island. At the same time the new Telecommunications (Jersey) Law 2002[9] abolished the States' monopoly on the provision of telecommunications in Jersey allowing full competition for the first time since the days of the NTC.

The JCRA has actively promoted competition in Jersey granting a Class II licence to Newtel Solutions in January 2003 which provides cable television services in Jersey and data services such as leased lines and ISP services in both Jersey and Guernsey for the business and residential markets.

In December 2003 Cable and Wireless Jersey was granted a Class II licence to provide fixed and mobile telephony services. In 2005, the JCRA also granted Jersey Airtel (a subsidiary of Bharti), now trading as Airtel-Vodafone, a Class II licence to provide mobile telecommunications services in the island. Airtel-Vodafone launched geographic number fixed-mobile services in 2009. The JCRA has also licensed a number of Class I operators to provide ISP and related services.

Jersey mobile number portability[edit]

In the summer of 2006 after a full public consultation, the JCRA directed all Jersey mobile telecommunications operators to introduce number portability (NP) in order to stimulate innovation and competition in the mobile market. Initially the operators worked together to select an NP provider but in October JT unilaterally withdrew from the process and following a further direction from the JCRA, challenged the NP requirement in the Royal Court of Jersey. However, the action was withdrawn when an out of court agreement was reached with the JCRA to introduce NP concurrently with Guernsey mobile operators in cooperation with the Guernsey telecommunications regulator, the Office of Utility Regulation (OUR).

The process was again launched in February 2008 with a Directed implementation date of 1 December 2008. The supplier for the system is the Dutch company PortingXS, which was selected after a competitive tender process. The All Call Query system was installed in cooperation with the Guernsey telecommunications regulator the OUR and the mobile operators in Guernsey. While the system is jointly operated by companies on both islands porting of numbers between the islands is not permitted. The system is intended to be compatible with fixed number portability including porting to VoIP providers. The service was opened as planned and in its first year of operation more than 5,000 successful ports were completed, representing about 5% of active SIMs.

References[edit]

External links[edit]