Telegraphy and pneumatic tubes created an internet of sorts during the Victorian Era. Pneumatic messaging was short range but high bandwidth. A nice piece on London's pneumatic network.
Telegraph operators formed an exclusive but unofficial community closed to themselves, forming the world’s first online community. They observed a strict hierarchy, as befitting the British class structure, that developed from the fact that the fastest and best operators worked in London at the busiest offices, with slower less accurate ones working progressively further out. Furthermore, operators had their own lingo and secrets. This caused concern for the businesses using telegraphs over the privacy of the messages.
Given that half the messages were sent by businesses, and many of those concerned stock and commodity prices, pneumatic messages were faster, more secure and more reliable than telegrams within cities. Telegrams were often forwarded on from station to station numerous times to reach their destination, and thus were seen by many eyes. Hence business and government readily took to the more secure pneumatic tubes as this reduced the number of individuals who read their messages.
Eventually, nearly all branch telegraph offices were connected directly to the CTO via pneumatic tubes but with only a few intermediate stations. The Post Office Engineer-in-Chief calculated that trunk 3 inch tubes, with cylinders carrying up to 55 telegrams that could be sent every 10 to 30 seconds (depending on the distance), was the equivalent of seven telegraph wires and 14 operators working at peak efficiency.