In the difficult period of war (1991-1995), marked by the death, the collapse of the economy, and the huge growth of refugees (hosted by Spain in large numbers, which again proved his famous solidarity in those insecure and uncertain days), Transmadrid was able to open new paths. In addition to persevere in its previous work in the shipbuilding sector, the company decided to promote the commercialization of absolute innovative products.
These products were public telephones that use a chip-card as a means of payment: after years of collaboration and project development, Telefónica and Amper Elasa managed to make a telephone system for public use controlled from a single regional center receiving all the information on the activity of each terminal in real time. On the other hand, by introducing a code, this system allowed the user to use different functions and even to use the phones for free. The system, which, was an anticipation of the “electronic wallet” and of the credit and debit cards protected by a pin code was improved in Spain.
This technological advance showed that public telephones, in addition to being a socially useful item, offered to mobile operators in each country the possibility of high benefits. It should be noted that in those years mobile telephone industry was something emerging because communicating by telephone was restricted to fixed-line at homes or offices only.
In addition to its main function, making calls, calling chip card turned out to be an important advertising system. Its modernity allowed the image of companies, products, and even social messages to be associated in an attractive way to customers.
In 1991, using this information and knowledge, Transmadrid began negotiations aiming a possible collaboration with HPT (the Croatian Post and Telegraph company). The visit of the delegation of the Croatian Chamber of Economy in Spain in 1992 included the participation of Mate Perak, HPT CEO. During that visit, through Transmadrid, the negotiations between Telefónica and HPT took place, ending with the signing of an agreement on economic and technical cooperation between Luis Rojo Serrano, Telefónica CEO, and Mate Perak.
Negotiations between Amper and HPT began in early 1992, a time when few companies in the European Community had the courage to visit Croatia.
Amper, in collaboration with Transmadrid, was an exception, fact that allowed initial trust to be generated between Amper and HPT. The first contract for 1,000 public telephones, 500 type TPM PC that only worked with a card, and 500 of the type TPM MP that combined card and coins, was signed in January 1993.
The first 1,000 phones were installed during 1993 and later that year, a new contract was signed.
This, in Croatia 10,000 public telephones and four checkpoints (Zagreb, Rijeka, Osijek and Pula), operating under the same system throughout its territory, were installed and provided by Amper. Thanks to this HPT system until 1997 Amper sold more than ten million cards which represented turnover of about 100 million DM. The figures collected far exceeded the project investment.
Amper, invested substantial resources in training HPT technicians. It is also noteworthy that all deliveries of material relating to the first contract were made without any hedging by CESCE, relying on the fulfillment of the commitment of payment from HPT.
The presence of Amper phones in the Adriatic resort towns helped to promote the brand of the manufacturer. It also was a good “showcase” for the Spanish art technology: at the end of 1996, Amper signed a contract to supply PTT (Mostar Telephone Company) with 500 phones in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The project was done in several phases providing 10,000 public phones. Today the whole territory of Croatia is covered by public telephone from Amper.
With the subsequent privatization of HPT, the selling of most its shares to Deutsche Telecom and the transfer of Amper Elasa factory to the German company Siemens, the initial vestiges of the public phone project disappeared. The new German owner of HT probably does not want to talk about the history of public telephones in Croatia, although they are still working. The only novelty is the orange color of the headphones, as the distinctive color of the new owner.
We are proud of that project that, in the most dramatic of Croatia, made a better communication between citizens possible and enabled a product developed in Spain and the result of the excellent experience which was visible and useful on the streets of every Croatian. That cities cooperation between Spanish and Croatian telecoms opened the possibility of Alcatel Cable Iberian to provide a considerable amount of PTH-optic cables.
This the Spanish industry, introduced by Transmadrid, was among the first participants in infrastructure projects most dynamic sector of the Croatian economy: Croatian Telecommunications.