New York City is the hub of the entire US communications network. Postal service was established in New York State in 1692; at the same time, the first General Letter Office was begun in New York City. By the mid-19th century, postal receipts in the state accounted for more than 20% of the US total. "Fast mail" service by train started in the 1870s, with the main routes leading from New York City to either Chicago or St. Louis via Indianapolis and Cincinnati. Mail was carried by air experimentally from Garden City to Mineola, Long Island, in 1911; the first regular airmail service in the US started in 1917, between New York City and Washington, D.C., via Philadelphia.
Telephone service in New York is provided primarily by the New York Telephone Co., but also by more than 40 smaller companies throughout the state. As of 2001, 94.9% of New York's occupied housing units had telephones.
Until 31 December 1983, New York Telephone was part of the Bell System, whose parent organization was the American Telephone and Telegraph Co. (AT&T). Effective 1 January 1984, as the result of a US Justice Department antitrust suit, AT&T divested itself of 22 Bell operating companies, which regrouped into seven independent regional telephone companies to provide local telephone service in the US. One of these companies, NYNEX, is the parent company of New York Telephone. AT&T, which continued to supply long-distance telephone services to New Yorkers (along with competitive carriers such as MCI, ITT, and GTE), is headquartered in New York City.
Domestic telegraph service is provided by the Western Union Telegraph Co., ITT World Communications, RCA Global Communications, and Western Union International. All four companies have their headquarters in New York City. New York State had 57 major AM stations and 180 major FM stations operating in 2003. New York City operates its own radio stations, WNYC-AM and FM, devoted largely to classical music and educational programming. There were 46 major television stations in the state in 2003. The city is the headquarters for most of the major US television networks, including the American Broadcasting Co. (now part of Walt Disney Corp.), Columbia Broadcasting System (owned by the Westinghouse Corp.), National Broadcasting Co. (owned by General Electric), Westinghouse Broadcasting (Group W), Metromedia, and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). The metropolitan area's PBS affiliate, WNET (licensed in Newark, N.J.), is a leading producer of programs for the PBS network. As of 2000, the New York metropolitan area had 6,874,990 television households, 74% of which received cable. The Buffalo region had 621,460 television homes, with a 77% cable penetration rate.
A total of 589,963 Internet domain names were registered in the state in the year 2000; the 2nd-highest number of all states.