New Era

June 8, 2011 (AFP) – Sri Lanka is to finally scrap its telegraphic service, which has been overtaken by mobile phones and the Internet and handles just 50 telegrams a day, an official said Wednesday. Transmitting telegrams using a network of postal messengers across the country was too expensive, postal ministry secretary Hemasiri Fernando said, adding that they could not compete with phones and text messages for speed.

“It is too costly. Telegrams have competition from email, courier and SMS (short message services) on mobile phones,” Fernando told AFP.

The department charges three rupees ($0.03) for a telegram of 10 words while it cost the postal department 250 rupees ($2.29) to transmit it to the recipient, Fernando said.

“These prices are not sustainable,” he added.

Some telegrams are still sent by parliamentarians and businesses to contact people in very remote locations, he said, but the demand is a fraction of its height in colonial times when it was a key form of communication. As late as the 1990s, most employers informed applicants of success in securing jobs through a telegram while hospitals and police also used the service to inform next-of-kin of deaths and accidents