What this meant for our customers.
In its earlier incarnation as the British General Post Office (GPO), BT was closely involved in the launch of Telstar – the first active, direct relay communications satellite – from Cape Canaveral. More sophisticated than earlier satellites, Telstar was designed to amplify a signal received from the ground and to relay it back to another ground station. This meant that live events such as Queen Elizabeth's coronation or the first American manned suborbital spaceflight could be transmitted across the world for the first time.
The earth satellite station in Cornwall was built by the GPO, who chose the site because it was flat, gave a clear view of the horizon, and its hard rock surface could take the weight of the 1,118-tonne dish (officially named Antenna 1, but nicknamed Arthur). The first television pictures were received via the satellite and broadcast to viewers of BBC1. Brian Oakes, one of the Post Office engineers involved, said the staff were "very relieved" the equipment worked, as "… it had never been made to work in that way before. We had only tested it 20 miles away at Land's End."
Key outcomes at a glance.
- The first satellite transatlantic communication.
- BT recognised as a key collaborator in the development of global cutting-edge communications.
- After the success of the Cornwall earth satellite station, BT established a new satellite earth station at Madeley in Herefordshire, currently believed to be the largest in the world.
Key benefits at a glance.
- Provision of accessible voice and data services to BT customers worldwide.
- Opening up communication and trade opportunities.
- Enabling continued collaboration between UK and the USA.