The Mission

of the Pennsylvania Telephone Association
is to advocate for its Members and their customers and shareholders

PTA History

One hundred and eleven years ago there were seven Independent Telephone companies in and around Philadelphia that were struggling to survive against much opposition.  They had managed to connect toll lines and give a fair quality of toll service to each other; however, no consideration had been given to the question of how this service should be handled and how settlements between the companies should be made.

By the middle of 1902 this interchangeable business had increased in volume until it became imperative that some plan should be devised for its care.  During the Fall of that year these companies met together several times and on November 17, 1902, organized the Eastern Traffic Association of Independent Telephone Companies with Mr. C.E. Wilson, of the Keystone Telephone Company, as President.  Mr. Harold E. Bradley, an employee of the AT&T Company, who had urged the companies to set up such an organization, was employed as Superintendent to install the system and take charge of the work.

The object of the Association was “To promote and encourage interchange of business between its members and to operate the properties of said members as one system, for the purpose of more effective competition with the Bell.”

The first settlement made by the Association was for June 1903, when a total interchangeable business of $3015 was reported.  It was soon determined that the amount of business done by each company was a fairly constant percentage of the whole, so it was decided to assess each company a similar percentage of the expense of the Association.

It will be interesting to note that in 1902 there were 2,370,000 telephones in the United States, of which about half were Independent.  It might also be noted that none of the seven companies that formed the original organization are still in existence.

The Association continued to grow and by 1916 it had 88 member companies in eight states, of which 67 were in Pennsylvania.  In that year it took over the service work of the Eastern and Western Pennsylvania Independent Telephone Associations, which had been set up as regional service organizations.  It was also at that time that the Association first filed all interchangeable toll rates with the Pennsylvania Public Service Commission.

In 1919 at a joint meeting of the Eastern and Western Pennsylvania Independent Telephone Associations in Harrisburg it was voted to merge these organizations with the Eastern Traffic Association of Independent Telephone Companies for the purpose of forming one strong organization.  The new organization was to be called the Pennsylvania State Telephone and Traffic Association.  The incorporators of the new Association were H.E. Bradley, E.D. Schade, E.M. Prisk, C.A. Carl and John H. Wright.  Charter was granted on February 17, 1920.

On December 1, 1919, the Association office was moved to Harrisburg, and Mr. Bradley was given the title of President which he held until his death in 1937.  During this period the chief development in the telephone industry was the consolidation of territory between the Bell Company and the various Independent companies.

On July 26, 1938 the Association’s name was officially changed to the Pennsylvania State Telephone and Traffic Association.

From its beginning in 1902 the Association obtained most of its revenue from charges made for toll clearing work.  However, as more and more of this business was routed over Bell lines, the amount of toll clearing work steadily decreased so that it was necessary in 1938 to install a system of dues, with payments based on the number of telephones in service.

The Association settled interchangeable tolls handled over Independent lines until December 1970, when they became a part of the Bell settlement.  It still filed a Toll Tariff for many companies which have toll routes that are entirely Independent.  In addition, it continues to act as a spokesman and protector of the interests of the telephone industry, and to give such assistance to individual companies in solving their problems as is physically possible.

Since 1919 when it became a statewide Association it has had six executives –

1902-37..................................... H.E. Bradley
1937-44.................................... H.M. Stewart
1945-46.................................... C.E. Williams
1947-77..................................... A.C. Herbert
1977-96..................................... F.C. Mangan
1996-2008..................................... D.E. Freet
2008-Present................................ S.J. Samara

 

Pennsylvania Telephone Association
30 N. 3rd Street, Suite 300
Harrisburg, PA 17101
Phone: (717) 238-8311      Fax: (717) 238-5352      Email:sue.carter@patel.org