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In 1930, the Olympic, Majestic, and Homeric were equipped with ship-to-shore transatlantic radiotelephone apparatus, enabling passengers to communicate with individuals on land. This service, first introduced by the American Telephone & Telegraph Co. on the Leviathan in December 1929, operated 24 hours daily in North America through shore transmitting and receiving stations located at Ocean Gate and Forked River, NJ. In Europe, telephone service was available through stations at Rugby and Baldock, England.

By the end of 1930, the Leviathan, Olympic, Majestic, Homeric, and Belgenland were the only passenger ships offering such a service. By April 1931, the service extended to the Empress of Britain, followed by the Bremen in 1932. Despite initial call volumes falling well below expectations, dozens of ships offered the service by 1934.

Reported charges for calls to cities along the North Atlantic seaboard in 1930 were $21 for the first 3 minutes, with calls to Havana at a significantly higher rate of $33 and Mexico City at $36 (equivalent to $378, $594, and $649 in today’s currency, respectively).

(Text: Eric Okanume, 2023)   (Image: F.R. Lack in the passenger telephone booth testing the phone onboard Leviathan. H.J. Scott)

Source: Oceanic Historical Society