Guernsey’s first telecoms body appeared at the end of the 19th century. It had a mandate to establish, maintain and operate an independent telephone network for the Bailiwick. The Channel Islands were deemed to be outside of the monopoly area covered by National Telephone Company, which had similar rights on the mainland.
Yet, this didn’t stop the National Telephone Company from trying to barge its way into Guernsey. It erected a series of poles and cables in St Peter Port in the belief that once it had established itself nobody would dare to object. This turned out to be a mis-judgement on its part, and its fledgling infrastructure was torn down.
The States Telephone Department went through various manifestations over the following 100 years. In 2001 it was handed over to the States of Guernsey Telecommunications Board, ready for sale. The eventual purchaser was Cable and Wireless, which took ownership on 30 May 2002. It later changed the name of its Guernsey operation to Sure.
Subscriber trunk dialling
The Channel Islands were connected to the UK’s subscriber trunk dialling (STD) network in the 1960s. This allowed users to direct-dial numbers connected through different exchanges to their own, without the help of an operator.
The introduction of STD saw the development of a system of standard codes for all numbers. Most often, these numbers were determined by the first three letters of the place name, as spelled out on the telephone keyboard or dial. Thus, Guernsey should logically be 0483 (which would later have been changed to 01483).
However, the 01483 area code actually points to Guildford (which should more logically be 01484). 01484 connects to Huddersfield which should more logically have been 01483. Either way, it was unlikely Guernsey would ever get its most logical combination.
The number 1 has not been assigned to any number on the dial, thus technically making Guernsey’s prefix 01GU[blank].