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FIRST CITY TELEPHONE EXCHANGES

After 1878, when the Russian Army adopted this new form of communication, the Telegraph Department also became interested in it for their communication needs. In November 1879 the chief of the St. Petersburg Telegraph division, F.Y. Gervart, was mandated to conduct experiments on 'using a phone for telegraphing on our telegraph lines and stations.'

And, in September 1881, the General Conditions for Design and Operation of urban telephone messages were approved. Telephony was recognized as a government monopoly but entrepreneurs also had the right to build and operate public telephone networks (individuals, companies and joint-stock companies). This required a contract with the Telegraph Department of the Ministry of the Interior Affairs for 20 years. After this time the telephone networks were transferred to the government.

As a result, Bell's International Telephone Company undertook the construction of the first urban telephone networks in Russia. The Bell Company had by that time much telephone networks operating experience in the United States and many European cities.

The first telephone stations in the Russian Empire (St. Petersburg, Moscow, Odessa and Riga) were built and commissioned almost simultaneously - in 1882. In St. Petersburg, a site for the central office was set aside on Nevsky Prospect, 26 (Hansen's house). Similarly in Moscow, at Kuznetsk Bridge (in the Popov house). A few years later, in 1885-86, telephone networks in Nizhny Novgorod, Libau, Revel, Rostov-on-Don and Baku were equipped and opened.

The construction of an urban telephone network financed by state funds was carried out in Kiev. There, on April 1, 1886 the first government telephone network was opened.