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Postal Service: Austria's postal service is a private enterprise; on May 1, 1996 the state-owned Administration of the Austrian Postal and Telegraph Service (Oesterreichische Post- und Telegraphenverwaltung (PTV)) was transformed into the Post und Telekom Austria AG (PTA) and taken out of the Federal Budget by the Poststrukturgesetz (Law on the Administration and Organisation of the Austrian Postal Service).

The Postal Service is responsible for the delivery of letters, parcels, newspapers and magazines, the operation of postal buses as public transportation, and for telecommunication. Postal fees are set by the PTA, certain fees require approval by the Minister of Finance. Until 1996 postal fees were "fixed prices", which were determined by the Nationalrat (National Council), while telecommunication fees were determined by a commission. There are more than 2,300 post offices in Austria. They also offer extensive services in the finance and banking area on the basis of a co-operation with the Oesterreichische Postsparkasse AG.

Until recently the PTV (Administration of the Austrian Postal and Telegraph Service) had the monopoly of the services in this sector; today such services are also offered by competing enterprises in certain fields such as letter and parcel delivery and telecommunications (Telecommunications Act of 1994).

The development of a uniform Austrian Postal Service goes back to Emperor Maximilian I, who made Innsbruck a postal centre by commissioning the Taxis family to establish a messenger service on horseback between Innsbruck and Mecheln (today Belgium) in 1490. From 1500 onwards Tirol had its own Postal Service. At the same time "Poststationen" (relay stages), headed by postmasters, were established. Under Emperor Ferdinand II the Austrian posts were connected to those in Styria and in 1624 they were given to the Paar family as hereditary fief.

Transportation was made by courier, exchanges of personal and horses took place at fixed places. In 1722 the postal privilege was taken over by the state, in 1748 Maria Theresia promulgated new fee schedules and added a "Fahrpost" (passenger transport service) in 1750. Hereditary post office and relay stage privileges were also introduced (documented only in Austria). In 1849 the Postal Service was attached to the newly founded Ministry of Trade, Construction and Public Works (Ministerium fuer Handel, Gewerbe und oeffentliche Bauten). In 1850 a general directorate of the Postal Service was set up and the name "Postamt" (Post Office) and standardised postage for letters ( Stamps) were introduced. In 1873 the rural Postal Delivery Service ("Ruraldienst") was established in all Crown Lands (in Lower Austria on a trial basis in 1868).

Regular mail transport services started around 1750, scheduled arrival times were introduced in 1823 at the express posts (Vienna-Prague), which had been established the year before. Registered letters have been delivered since 1799 and in 1817 official letterboxes were introduced. In 1833 "Brief-Eilposten" (express letter services) were established and in 1850 the postal service by train, with special mail carriages, was introduced. In 1907 the first postal bus line started operating. The military Postal Service was improved at a very early date and the Air Mail service was established in 1918.

After 1945 particular importance attached to the renewal and development of radio and television broadcasting stations by the Postal Service (radio broadcasting had been established in Austria by 1924).

Austria is connected to Intel-Sat, Eutel-Sat and Inmar-Sat via the Aflenz earth station (4 antennas) and is thus fully integrated into the system of world-wide radio transmission.

telephone services ( Telecommunications) were deregulated in 1996, from 1895 -1996 they were subordinate to the state Administration of the Austrian Postal and Telegraph Service.


Post- und fernmeldewissenschaftliche Reihe, 1957ff.; 200 Jahre Post, exhibition catalogue, Halbturn 1985; Die Post auf dem Weg ins Informationszeitalter, 1989; Aus Oesterreichs Postgeschichte, 1990; C. Kainz, Geschichte der oesterreichischen Post, 1995.