What Cyrus Fields was to the United States, John Pender was to the United Kingdom. A merchant in the Manchester Cotton Exchange, Pender founded the British Indian Submarine Telegraph Company in 1869 with the vision of laying a cable to directly link Britain and India. In 1872 he formed the Eastern Telegraph Company to manage overland cables to the Far East.
By 1877 the British Indian Submarine Telegraph Company controlled more than 60% of the telegraph traffic to India and 80% from India to China, Java, and Australia. Having been involved in planning the transatlantic cable on the European end, he spent considerable time formulating a plan that would accommodate the certainty of setbacks and pitfalls: by 1879 he had successfully engineered a cable network linking London and Bombay.
Though Pender died in 1896, his companies continued to dominate international communications.
By the beginning of World War I, the Eastern Telegraph Company controlled six of the nine lines of communication to India and the Far East.