Cable & Wireless

Cable & Wireless

company_name = Cable & Wireless PLC
company_type = Public
company_slogan =
foundation = circa 1860
location = Bracknell, England, UK
key_people = Richard Lapthorne (Chairman)
Tony Rice and John Pluthero (Joint Managing Directors)
num_employees = 4,398 UK
industry = Telecommunication
products = "Various"
revenue = £3,348m (2007)
operating_income = £203m (2007)
net_income = £234m (2007)
homepage = []

Cable & Wireless (lse|CW.) is a British telecommunications company. In the mid-1980s, it became the first company in the UK to offer an alternative telephone service to British Telecom (via subsidiary Mercury Communications, merged into C&W in 1997). The company later offered cable TV to its customers, but it sold its cable assets to NTL in 2000. It remains a significant player in the UK telecoms market and in certain overseas markets, especially in the former British colonies of the Caribbean, where it was formerly the monopoly incumbent. It is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. The Caribbean division is expected to rebrand as LIME (Landline, Internet, Mobile and Entertainment) [ [ C&W set for rebranding] ]


Cable and Wireless traces its history back to a number of British telegraph companies founded in the 1860s, and cites Sir John Pender as the founder. [ [ Sir John Pender] ] In 1869, Pender founded the "Falmouth, Gibraltar and Malta Cable Company" and the "British Indian Submarine Telegraph Company", which connected the Ango-Mediterranean cable (linking Malta to Alexandria using a cable manufactured by one of Pender's companies) to Britain and India, respectively. The London to Bombay telegraph line was completed in 1870, and in 1872 the three companies were merged with the "Marseilles, Algiers and Malta Telegraph Company" to form the "Eastern Telegraph Company", with Pender as chairman. [ [ Evolution of Eastern Telegraph Company] ]

The Eastern Telegraph Company expanded the cable length from 8,860 miles on its founding to 22,400 miles just 15 years later. The Company steadily took over a number of companies founded to connect the West Indies and South America, leading to a name change to "The Eastern and Associated Telegraph Companies". [ [ Origins of the Eastern & Associated Telegraph Companies] ]

With increasing competition from companies using radio communications such as Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Company, it was decided in 1928 to merge the communications methods of the British Empire into one operating company, initially known as the "Imperial and International Communications Ltd", and changed to "Cable and Wireless Limited" in 1934. [ Imperial and International Communications Ltd] ]

Following the Labour Party's victory in the 1945 general elections, the government announced its intention to nationalise Cable and Wireless, which was carried out in 1947. While the company would remain in being as a government-owned company, continuing to own assets and operating telecommunication services outside the UK, all assets in the UK were integrated with those of the Post Office.

In 1979 the Conservative Party government led by Margaret Thatcher began privatising the nationalised industries, and the history as a private company made Cable and Wireless an early candidate. Privatisation was announced in 1980, with Cable and Wireless privatised in November 1981. [ [ 1980s Key facts] ] Part of the privatisation included the granting of a licence for a UK telecommunications network, Mercury Communications Ltd, as a rival to British Telecom. It was established as a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless. [ [ Non BT boxes in the UK] ]

In 1997, Mercury was merged with three cable operators in the UK (Vidéotron, Nynex, and Bell Cablemedia) and renamed Cable & Wireless Communications. [ [ Mercury's £5bn merger] ] Later that year Cable & Wireless bought a 49% of the Panamanian INTEL (Instituto Nacional de Telecomunicaciones): it is now the largest communications carrier in that country. [ [ Cable & Wireless in Panamanian deal] ]

In 1998 MCI Communications and WorldCom merged to create MCI WorldCom, the company's existing US subsidiary Cable and Wireless USA, Inc. purchased the MCI tier 1 backbone in the U.S.: prior to 1998 Cable & Wireless USA had merely operated a long distance telephone business and a small internet service. [ [ MCI to sell wholsale internet unit to Cable & Wireles] ]

The following year - in August 1999 - Cable & Wireless Global was formed to build global IP and IP MPLS networks with a strategy to sell global IP services to corporates. [ [ Second phase of Cable & Wireless Global IP network] ]

In November 2001 Cable and Wireless USA purchased bankrupt co-location provider Exodus Communications for $800 million dollars, the operations were merged with the previously acquired Digital Island and renamed Cable and Wireless America. [ [ Cable & Wireless buys Exodus] ]

In May 2002 Cable and Wireless purchased Guernsey Telecoms from the States of Guernsey [ [,39024659,11033247,00.htm Cable & Wireless buys Guernsey Telecom] ] and in November 2002 Cable and Wireless announced their withdrawal from the U.S. corporate market. US telephone operations were sold to Primus Telecom. [ [ Cable & Wireless and Primus strike deal] ]

In March 2004 SAVVIS Communications Corporation purchased Cable and Wireless America for $155 million US Dollars via the Chapter 11 creditor protection process, and assumed liabilities of about $12.5 million US Dollars and assets including the former MCI IP backbone AS3561. [ [ SAVVIS Communications selected to buy Cable & Wireless USA] ]

In August 2005 Cable & Wireless bought Energis for £674m as a reverse takeover in terms of management: John Pluthero was appointed from Energis to head the UK business with Francesco Ciao departing by April 2006. [ [,3604,1550011,00.html Cable & Wireless buys Energis for £674m] ]

In December 2005 Cable & Wireless cancelled its American Depositary Receipts programme, voluntarily delisting from the New York Stock Exchange

In May/June 2008 Cable & Wireless made an offer to purchase Thus plc. [ [ Cable & Wireless makes bid for Thus] ]

On 1st Oct 2008, Cable & Wireless sucesfully took over THUS plc, THUS are now known as "Thus, a Cable&Wireless business" [ [] ]


Cable & Wireless remains the 3rd biggest supplier of IP services to FTSE350 customers behind BT and MCI/Verizon. However, with recent cable company consolidation it can no longer claim its position as the second largest UK fixed player. The fortunes of the international wholesale telecoms division of C&W UK is significant - accounting for over one third of UK revenues. Indeed, its international wholesale voice operation and European IP (AS1273) remain sizable, but commercially struggling.

Following acquisition of Energis in August 2005, C&W strengthened its UK position but still have only half the Internet Access corporate market share of former incumbent (BT). Former CEO Francesco Caio publicly stated the aim of making C&W the preferred alternative to BT in the UK. John Pluthero, on his accession in the Energis management takeover, modified this to be the leading UK IP services company.

C&W also bought Bulldog Communications in the UK, providing it with an LLU network as well as a consumer broadband Internet service provider. During aggressive expansion it gained a poor reputation for provisioning and customer service. Falling new sales and a strategy change led C&W to sell the brand and customer base to Pipex in September 2006. It continues to own, and wholesale on, the LLU capability.

Historically, Cable and Wireless has had a strong market presence in many current and former British colonies where it provided local telephone service. It was awarded the 1996 Worldaware Business Award [ [ 1996 Worldaware Business Award] ] for its long term commitment to developing Cable links in the Pacific region (especially Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and the Solomon Islands). The company had a virtual monopoly amongst the colonies in the Caribbean region. In recent years, their market share has somewhat diminished with the dismantling of their regional monopoly and the introduction of more competition in the Caribbean, particularly from Digicel. The company was also the main fixed line operator in Hong Kong until the sale of "Hong Kong Telecom" to PCCW.

The company remains the main fixed-line provider in the British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Panama, Macau, Maldives, Monaco, Seychelles, the Falkland Islands, St. Helena and Guernsey (where it operates under its own brand name Sure), while in Bermuda it provides international communications only; local services are provided by the Bermuda Telephone Company.

Cable & Wireless HKT

"Cable and Wireless HKT" was the Hong Kong operations of British-based telecom firm Cable & Wireless and was established in the then British colony in 1934. It was not until 1981 that the unit formally registered as a Hong Kong company, Cable and Wireless (Hong Kong) Limited. In 1988 Cable and Wireless (Hong Kong) Limited merged with Hong Kong Telephone Company as "Hong Kong Telecom". It was renamed as "Cable and Wireless HKT International" in 1998. CWHKT was acquired by PCCW Limited in 2000.


ee also

*All Red Line
*Cable & Wireless (Caribbean)

External links

* [ Cable & Wireless]
* [ Cable & Wireless Jamaica]
* [ Cable & Wireless Cayman Islands]
* [ Cable & Wireless Antigua]
* [ SAVVIS, Inc.]
* [ Cable & Wireless history]
* [ History of the Atlantic Cable & Submarine Telegraphy]
* [ Winkler, Jonathan Reed. Nexus: Strategic Communications and American Security in World War I. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008)] Corporate, technical and diplomatic account of wartime rivalry between United States and predecessors of Cable & Wireless.
* [ Cable & Wireless accelerates demerger plan] - (September 14, 2008)

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