TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Western Union Private Line Voice Service -- "Hot Line"

Western Union Private Line Voice Service -- "Hot Line"
12 Aug 2005 12:57:16 -0700

In the mid 1960s Western Union introduced a private line voice service
called "Hot Line". In essence, a person lifting the receiver of one
telephone would cause a specified distant telephone to ring over a
private line. The connection was faster and cheaper than placing a
conventional long distance call over the Bell System. WU charged by 6
second increments and at a lower rate; the Bell System at that time
had a 3 minute minimum. WU says their arrangement was cheaper when
more than 3 calls a day were made.

The connection between the two telephones was actually not a dedicated
private line, but shared use of the WU network via concentrators. If
a circuit was busy there were alternates.


The article said the service was popular among brokers between field
offices and the central office serving the stock exchange for calling
in stock orders. Such calls were normally brief.

Obviously this service had some limitations since it was telephone-set
to telephone-set. I don't think this could terminate in a PBX system
to allow shared use of the line by a whole organization which would
give more flexibility. I don't know if WU permitted any kind of
multiple extension sets at the subscriber since a specialized telephone
set they provided was used. For example, a secretary might want to
answer the boss's hot/line phone if he was out.

WU also reported customers wanted to get the service in more cities
than available.

None the less, it seemed like a pretty good idea for its time.

Would anyone know how successful this service was and how long it

Post Followup Article Use your browser's quoting feature to quote article into reply
Go to Next message: "Stock market ticker tape machines?"
Go to Previous message: USTelecom dailyLead: "WorldCom's Sullivan gets five years"
Next in thread: Robert Bonomi: "Re: Western Union Private Line Voice Service -- "Hot Line""
May be reply: Robert Bonomi: "Re: Western Union Private Line Voice Service -- "Hot Line""
TELECOM Digest: Home Page