The first telephone was introduced in Trinidad and Tobago in 1883 and the first Telephone Exchange was located adjacent to the Town Hall (now City Hall) on Frederick Street. By 1898, the Telephone System had developed sufficiently to justify enactment of the Telephone Communication Ordinance.
Around 1890, the telephone service extended westward out of Port of Spain to Carenage and then onwards to one customer in Chaguaramas. In the early 1900's, the government operated telephone lines in rural areas, namely from Arima to Manzanilla and from San Fernando to Cedros. History records show that a Mr. Bell of Bacolet started the service in Tobago.
The early system consisted of local battery operated telephones connected to a magneto switchboard, a far cry from the sophisticated electronic system which is in operation today. Special cables called enamel cables were developed for use in this country, and it is reported that their use became worldwide because of their durability.
The British owned Trinidad Consolidated Telephones Limited was responsible for the early developmental growth of the Telephone Network in Trinidad and Tobago from the mid-1930's until 1960.
Approximately 6,300 lines were in service when the Country got its first 1000-line Step-By-Step Exchange in 1936. In 1947, Consolidated purchased the Government operated system in Tobago and the first Teleprinter (TELEX) link was established in 1949.
After a prolonged strike in 1960, which existed for 1,124 days, the Government of the day purchased the Company and on November 30th, Trinidad Consolidated Telephones Limited became the state owned Trinidad and Tobago Telephone Service.
In 1968, the Government entered into a partnership with Continental Telephones of the United States, to whom it sold fifty percent of the holdings. This was later dissolved in 1973 and the Company returned to full ownership by the Government.
Over the years, automatic Step-By-Step exchanges were gradually extended to suburban and urban areas as the Company sought to keep pace with the development of the country. Development programmes were implemented in 1935, 1943, 1952 and 1964. A loan agreement was signed in 1974 with the World Bank for 18 million dollars to carry out a massive development programme. This resulted in the introduction of modern, electronic stored programme equipment at the Exchanges.
In 1979, the government contracted Nippon Electric of Japan for the supply and installation of 48,000 additional lines and associated equipment.
In March of 1981, some 8,000 subscribers were transferred to the new Electronic Exchange at Nelson. Similar ND 20 Exchanges, were commissioned at Thompson in San Fernando, Chaguanas, Couva, Piarco, San Juan, Diego Martin, Maraval, Arouca and St Augustine.
The major thrust of the Company's development programme took place during the period 1982 to 1987.
Between 1983 and 1989, D.M.S. 100 Digital switches were installed throughout the country and, as a result of this new technology, training of employees became a significant factor. The new technology saw the introduction of new services such as International Direct Distance Dialing and Vertical Services (Call Waiting, Call forwarding and Conference Calling).
The Company's operations were divided into the following Divisions - Technical Operations, Marketing, Human Resources and Finance. The Company's employee headcount consisted of 2,
300 employees (including contractors).
There were approximately 160,000 customers in four major operating districts.
The Trinidad and Tobago External Telecommunications Company Limited (TEXTEL), was incorporated as a limited liability company in December 1969 a joint venture participation, with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago holding 51% of the share capital and Cable and Wireless (West Indies) Limited, the other 49%.
The Company acquired the assets of Cable and Wireless in Trinidad and Tobago and assumed responsibility for external telecommunications, commencing 1st January 1970. As the legally constituted body charged with the responsibility for telecommunication links between the country and the rest of the world, TEXTEL provided the transmission, switching and signaling facilities to interconnect with the international facilities of all other countries.
Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago Limited is jointly owned by National Enterprises Limited (NEL) which in turn is majority owned by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago, and Cable & Wireless (West Indies) Limited, (C&W). NEL owns 51% of TSTT's issued share capital, while C&W holds 49%. TSTT is the country's largest provider of communications solutions to the residential and commercial markets and its leading edge products are designed around its IP-based core infrastructure and marketed under its BLINK and Bmobile brands. In addition to fixed line and mobile communications, the company has an innovative line of BlackBerry; Android-based devices and the iPhone 5; Broadband access including best-in-class Wi-Max and HSPA+ 4G technologies; Metro Ethernet; TelePresence and Video Conferencing; subscription-based IPTV as well as business and home alarm monitoring services. TSTT is the industry leader deploying both wireless and fiber optic networks to deliver voice, data and multimedia capabilities making it also one of the most advanced solutions provider in the country. The company's customers include key industry leaders in the finance, energy, government, manufacturing, education, healthcare and tourism sectors.