NEED FOR PRIVATE ENTERPRISE
TWELVE YEARS OF, DRIFT
(PROlf OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT.)
LONDON, 26th January.
"A Wireless Expert," writing in "The Observer," returns to the evergreen subject of "Wireless and the Empire." "However skilfully the facts may be camouflaged by official apologists," eaya the writer, "the' public has an uneasy feeling .that the Government has kept wireless telegraphy in its own hands, and has made a mess of it. The broad fact is. indisputable that Great Britain to-day is almost entirely dependent on the cables for its external telegraphic communications. Such wireless services as at present exist are so limited as, to quote the phrase of a contemporary, 'to leave this country in a position of wireless isolation.' This state of things is an Imperial danger, and a grave trade handicap. At present,-Owing to the inevitable limitations of cable telegraphy, high rates, delayed, service, and liability to interruption, the different parts of the Empire are ignorant of most of the events of prime importance happening in any part other than its own. "For the British Empire to continue to depend on the cables for telegraphic communication is to invite disaster, perhaps to ensure it." AN EXTRAORDINARY STORY. Why are we in our present position of wjreless isolation? asks the writer, who continues to relate an extraordinary story: "Twelve years ago Mr. Godfrey Isaacs, on behalf of the Marconi Company, put forward a scheme for linking up the Empire by wireless telegraphy. His company was prepared to undertake the work .and to give the British Empire an Imperial wireless chain within three years of securing permission from the Government. The Government of that day decided that such a project was too important to be left to private enterprise, and that its control'and conduct must be in the hands of the Government. That was in 1910. For twelve years the scheme has remained in Government hands. Private enterprise has been forbidden to touch it. and to-day, after twelve years of inquiry and-report, and experiment and negotiation, and. it may be added, a lavish expenditure of the taxpayer's money, the Empire is as far from getting a Government wireless chain as it was twelve years ago." WIRELESS GUARD OF. THE PACIFIC. "Twelve years ago Great Britain led the world in wireless telegraphy. It was in this country that Mr. Marconi carried on his most important experiments, and secured tho most far-reaching developments of his revolutionary discovery. But to-day, instead of leading the world in the practice of wireless telegraphy, Great Britain ranks fourth or fifth amongst the great Powers. The United State of America, France, and Germany are certainly far ahead of this country, and the same observation probably applies to Italy and to Japan. Each of the first three-named Powers has constructed and. is working high-power stal tions, and is conducting a world-wide 1 wireless telegraph service. As Dr., Eccles, the Government expert, truly stated, we have left the United States, France, and Japan to keep wireless guard over the Pacific. France, through its magnificent chain of stations at St. Assise, has now continuous connection with China on one side of the world, and with South American on the other, and Paris has become what London used to be—the news centre of Europe. Germany is conducting a world-jvide service from Nauen. "What is the explanation of this state of things, which must be galling to every patriotic Briton? It is not to be found in any technical deficiency of British wireless engineers, for the wireless engineers of this country are equal to any in America, France, Germany, or Japan. The one feature which distinguishes the' development of wireless telegraphy in this country from its position in the other great Powers of the world is that whilst Great Britain has kept wireless telegraphy under Government control and has steadily refused to allow private en- ' terprise a free hand, the United States of America, France, and Germany, have entrusted commercial wireless telegraphy entirely to private enterprise.' THE IDEAL SYSTEM. "Great Britain, each of the Dominions, and India, require improved means of communication not only with each other, but with the whole of the world. To construct wireless telegraph stations for communication with the Empire only is seriously to diminish the available revenue and usefulness of such stations, whilst greatly increasing the overhead charges. "The ideal system would be one in which all the stations in this; country, Imperial and foreign, were so construct|edasto be interchangeable. There are two strong reasons for this course. One of them is in the nature of telegraph traffic, and the other in the physical conditions under which wireless telegraphy lias to work. .Telegraphy traffic does not come forward to any one part of the world in a steady flow throughout the whole twenty-four hours. | It comes forward in spurt*. While certain, hours of the day are very busy, during other hours of the day the demand for communication is limited.. Under a coordinated system of Imperial and foreign wireless telegraphy it would be possible to concentrate all the stations in this country on dealing with the traffic with any one Dominion during the time when work was heaviest, thus avoiding the serious delays which are at present characteristic of the cables. FORESIGHT AND AUDACITY. "The conduct of a wireless telegraph service requires to an almost unique ex.tent foresight, audacity, and willingness to take great financial risks. These are qualities which, in the nature of things, a Government-controlled undertaking cannot exercise. Whai is required is that the administration of the foreign and Imperial wireless communications of the British Empire, being essentially a commercial undertaking, should be in the hands of commercial men who understand and are prepared to take the commercial risks. What it seems to me the Government cannot do is to attempt i to satisfy the wireless needs of the BriI tish Empire by a hybrid system of Gov- ! ernment control in this country, working j a. hopelessly inadequate station, with private enterprise in the Dominions and India working high-power modern stations."
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EMPIRE WIRELESS, Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 59, 10 March 1923
EMPIRE WIRELESS Evening Post, Volume CV, Issue 59, 10 March 1923
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