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After almost 115 years of telephone experience, Tallinners said farewell to the last analog automatic telephone exchange on the evening of Dec. 12 when Esti Telefon Ltd. (ET) solemnly shut down the last one. It was another step towards better quality for the telecommunication service in Estonia. Right now, 71 percent of the country's fixed phone users have digital lines.
ET carried out the digitalization project Tallinn 100 and launched 36 digital telephone stations between 1988 and 2000.
According to Rein Toomsalu, Tallinn 100's project manager, analog telephone stations are out of date morally rather than technically. He compared analog telecommunications with an old Lada, which, although still considered a fine car by some drivers, cannot compete with a Mercedes.
To put it in a nutshell, digital telephone stations allow numerous features that are inaccessible when using an analog one. "For example, call redirection, dial-up speed up to 56 KB per second and ISDN connection are unavailable with analog stations," said Toomsalu. He added that the quality of speech and data transfer is also higher on digital lines.
At the beginning of 2000, there were 131,800 and 62,000 clients of ET connected through digital and analog stations, respectively.
Advanced technology is more expensive for end-users, but all those private clients who had analog lines will pay the same license fee for one year after the date of digitalization. The monthly fee for a digital line is 75 kroons ($4.3). An analog line is 25 kroons cheaper.
The mass of analog station equipment dismantled during the Tallinn 100 project totaled 640 tons and would fit into 10 goods wagons. The ET press service said that Esti Telefon has become one of the major clients of EMEX, the metal utilization company.