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The CHAIRMAN. So that you have opened the naval stations to commercial business because of the inadequacy of the cable lines and other means of communication?
Capt. BRYANT. That is what it amounts to. The cables can not take care of the traffic, and the naval radio stations are handling the overflow.
The CHAIRMAN. How do you fix those rates?
Capt. BRYANT. We are keeping to the same rates that were previously fixed by the commercial companies that operated those stations before they were taken over by the Navy Department.
The CHAIRMAN. They were taken over under the war powers, as a war emergency matter, were they not?
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Is it contemplated that they will be restored to private ownership after the emergency is over?
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Then, this legislation should be addressed toward their future, when peace shall come?
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
Capt. BRYANT. On the question of rates on connecting land lines to and from the radio stations; yes, sir. As to the regulation of the transmission, that, I think, is a matter for international convention, and there will be an international convention within the next six months, I believe, on this subject of radio.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you any other suggestions to offer, Captain ?
Capt. BRYANT. These remarks are based upon the assumption that none of the provisions apply to the construction and operation of stations by any department of the Government itself, but always, of course, with the exception of land wire rates. So far as this commercial business between fixed points wholly under United States jurisdiction is concerned, there can be no objection, and there would be none, to the control of rates by the Interstate Commerce Commission. The law to-day as to the transmission of commercial business by naval radio stations provides that the rates are subject to the control of Congress.
The CHAIRMAN. Or such instrumentalities as Congress may designate.
Capt. Bryant. It specifically says that such rates shall be regulated by Congress; that is, fixed by the Secretary of the Navy, subject to control of such rates by Congress.
Mr. MERRITT. I understood you to say that it was contemplated that those stations would be turned back to their private owners!
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
Mr. MERRITT. But now you are talking about the Navy continuing in the commercial business.
Capt. BRYANT. Where there are commercial stations within 100 miles of our stations we are not permitted to operate commercially, provided the commercial stations maintain continuous service.
Mr. MERRITT. You are not permitted by what?
Mr. MERRITT. But after the war emergency ends, will the Navy still own some stations?
Capt. BRYANT. We will own most of them.
Mr. MERRITT. I thought you said you would turn them back to their private owners.
Capt. Bryant. The private stations that we took over will be turned back.
Mr. MERRITT. Were those naval stations built under the same law or power!
Capt. Bryant. They were built for use in connection with the handling of our naval forces.
Mr. MERRITT. Under the war powers! Capt. Bryant. No, sir; most of them were built before the war. The whole system was built with the idea, first, of being able to use them in connection with the operation of the naval forces, and second, to provide a subsidiary use for commercial purposes.
Mr. DENISON. What is the reason for doing that?
Capt. Bryant. They do it principally to supply the public with the service that they demand.
Mr. Denison. It is not any part of the business of the Navy Department to supply the commercial demand, is it?
Capt. Bryant. No, sir; except that these stations are not running to capacity, and so long as they are there and not more than 50 per cent of the time are they engaged in particular naval uses, the other part of the time we feel that they can be turned over to the public for their uses. .
Mr. Denison. What do you do with the revenue ?
Capt. Bryant. It is turned into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts.
Mr. DENISON. Is that because of the fact that the private stations can not supply the demand for service, or is it simply a desire on the part of the Navy Department to provide this service, which is it?
Capt. BRYANT. For both reasons. We are required to have a number of coast stations for our fleet.
Mr. DENISON. Yes.
Capt. BRYANT. There were at one time a few commercial stations, 20 or so, about the coast, that did transact commercial business and in out of the way places our naval stations took up that business and transacted it where there were no commercial stations. During the war these commercial coast stations, the low-powered stations, were purchased by the Navy Department and they handle practically all of the ship to shore work, that is, during the war, but after the war, according to the present law, if the commercial companies put up stations along the coast within 100 miles of our stations and maintain continuous service we will have to close up our stations and we will not be able to transact commercial business, even if the public wants us to do so.
Mr. HAMILTON. I should like to ask you a few questions simply to get some information for some of us who are not very well informed in the subject.
When did the Navy Department begin to install the wireless service!
Capt. Bryant. In the very beginning, I think, about 1904.
Mr. HAMILTON. What corporations are there engaged in the wireless service?
Capt. BRYANT. That is, commercial companies, you mean?
Capt. BRYANT. There is the Marconi Co., the Tropical Radio Telegraph Co., the International Radio Telegraph Co., and there is a radio company which is called the Ship Owners' Radio Association, I think.
Mr. HAMILTON. Could you give, in a general way, the scope of the Government wireless operations at this time?
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir; we practically own about 95 per cent of all coastal and other radio stations in the United States on United States territory.
Mr. HAMILTON. You say coastal?
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir; that is the ship-to-shore as distinguished from the transoceanic stations.
Mr. HAMILTON. Take the Atlantic coast, how many stations are there?
Capt. BRYANT. The low-powered stations, that is, the ship-to-shore stations, I should say, roughly, between 30 and 40. I can not give you the exact number.
Mr. HAMILTON. And how many on the Pacific coast ?
Capt. BRYANT. On the Pacific coast, including Alaska, there might be about 25.
Mr. HAMILTON. Does this system practically in operation now extend around the world ?
Capt. Bryant. We are in communication with all our outlying possessions by means of the Navy radio system.
Mr. HAMILTON. You answer that it covers all of our outlying possessions, and beyond that, by cooperation with the other nations, the service extends around the world, I take it?
Capt. BRYANT. It is not established around the world. It could be if the other nations cared to extend our transmission.
Mr. HAMILTON. The other nations have not gone so extensively into the service?
Capt. Bryant. Yes, sir; more extensively, especially the British Government.
Mr. HAMILTON. Then, it is easily possible, by cooperation of the nations, to extend the service around the world?
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
Mr. HAMILTON. The Navy Department took over the wireless seryice, did it not, before there was any enabling act?
Capt. BRYANT. No, sir. The radio act of 1912 authorized the President to do that in time of war, and he took over the stations in accordance with that act.
Mr. HAMILTON. Subsequently there was a law which originated with this committee, as I remember, and Mr. Daniels appeared before the committee, if I am no, in error, Mr. Chairman; and I think that the Navy Department had already taken over the radio system.
The CHAIRMAN. Yes; that was on the hearing on the bill to take over the wireless system.
Mr. HAMILTON. Yes, sir.
Captain, could you give in a general way the extent of the service by private corporations at this time?
Capt. Bryant. There are no private corporations operating on United States territory at this time; it is all done under the Navy, practically.
Mr. HAMILTON. I asked you to state at the outset what corporations there were, and you corrected my question by defining them as commercial systems?
Capt. Bryant. Yes, sir. I may have misled you. They own stations, but those stations were taken over by the Navy Department at the outbreak of the war.
Mr. HAMILTON. Precisely. But the title has not passed?
Mr. Hamilton. What I want to get at is how extensive their operations are with a view to ascertaining what will be done by the private corporations after the service is returned to them?
Capt. BRYANT. I can tell you that, sir. The transoceanic stations owned by commercial companies, there are three high-powered stations on the Atlantic coast, one in Massachusetts and two in New Jersey, one in Massachusetts at Marion and one at New Brunswick in New Jersey owned by the Marconi Co. The one in Massachusetts operates with a Norwegian station and the one in New Brunswick, N. J., is designed to communicate with a station in Great Britain. The station at Tuckerton, which is owned principally by French interests, is designed to operate with some station in France, presumably. Before the war the Tuckerton station communicated with a German station at Eilvese, in Germany. They are the commercial high-powered stations on the Atlantic coast.
Mr. HAMILTON. Your idea is that after the Navy Department ceases to operate these systems the service of the commercial companies is so limited and perhaps inadequate that it will be advisable and practically necessary to continue the supplemental service, as you call it, of the Government?
Capt. BRYANT. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. I will submit Capt. Bullard's statement to me to be printed in the record in connection with the testimony of Capt. Bryant. (The statement of Capt. Bullard follows:)
Washington, June 12, 1919. Memorandum for Hon. J. J. Esch, M. C..
Chairman of Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce: My attention has recently been directed to H. R. bill 4378, entitled "A bill to further amend an act entitled 'An act to regulate commerce,' approved February 4, 1887, as amended, and for other purposes.” My interest in this bill rests in the fact that I am Director Naval Communications, and as such in charge of all communications of the Navy Department; and I am preparing this memorandum with the approval and at the suggestion of the Secretary of the Navy, as well as the suggestion of yourself.
To my mind the language of the bill is not clear as to its intent in the proviso contained in the last five lines of page 2 and succeeding five lines, top of
page 3. Does this provision exempt the transmission of intelligence between a fixed point in the United States and a fixed point in a foreign country? It would seem to be desirable that the provisions of the act should not apply to transmission of this character, except for the question of rates to and from the shore stations, but rather this should be controlled by international agreements. The regulations regarding the transmission of intelligence by means of wireless telegraphy are provided for by certain international conventions to which the United States a signatory party, and the one at present in force is the socalled London convention of 1912. This convention on account, presumably, of the youth of the art, distinctly reserved the regulation of transmission of intelligence by wireless between fixed points to the high contracting parties, having in mind, of course, fixed points in different countries, and naturally claiming no jurisdiction concerning wireless between fixed points in the same country, which must, of necessity, be a national rather than international affair.
Further, I can find nothing in the bill which exempts the regulation of wireless transmission which involves the fixed land stations along the coast, now practically all controlled by the Navy Department, and ships at sea whether of our own or other nationalities. This question is entirely covered by the regulations of the present international treaty, and it is a question as to how far local laws would interfere with the operation of international laws. In the London convention the United States delegation entered a reservation which abstained from all action with regard to rates. The question of rates involving this class of transmission—that is, between ship and shore-has never been questioned, being based on the maximum rate provided, though never equalling it. Thus believing it is not wise to bring this class of transmission under the regulations of the Interstate Commerce Commission, except for the question of land line rates to or from the shore station, as it is already well regulated internationally, I would suggest that a further proviso be added : “ The provisions of this act shall not apply to the transmission of intelligence by wireless between coastal stations and ships at sea, except in the matter of land-line rates."
Present laws require all land stations other than those of the Government to procure a license from the Department of Commerce before they can operate commercially. This license contains certain provisions based on existing laws, but contains no reference to rates, which are, as a rule, based on the maximum rate allowed by the International Convention, though seldom equalling it. Analogy would seem to indicate that it would be desirable to apply the principles of new railroad construction, elaborated on page 8 and following pages, to the construction of new wireless stations of the class to which the act is applicable, and require the controlling companies to prove the necessity for such new stations, and this necessity should be considered in the light of interference with existing Government stations or commercial stations already in existence, and the character of the work to be done, and should require a permit from the Interstate Commerce Commission before such a station was authorized to be built. Nearly every building requires some sort of a permit, either from local, State, or national authority, before such building can be erected, the authority requiring to be informed of the character of the building and to what use it is to be put, but very few restrictions exist as to the building of wireless stations, but when built a demand for a license can be made, and, provided certain requirements are met, the license granted. This seems to be a back-handed way of going about this proposition, and the Navy Department has always contended that the license should be obtained before the station is erected and proposed builders required to state the character of the business proposed, the wave lengths to be used, hours of operation, stations proposed to communicate with, etc., so some responsible authority could judge as to the needs and necessities of such a station before it is built, and if it is found such a station would seriously interfere with other stations already in existence, the permit to build could be denied. This act seems to provide a natural means by which this desirable feature can be obtained, and it is hoped it may be provided for, considered in its analogy tò other common carriers, new construction for which is provided in the bill.
If the provisions of this act are intended and do apply to transmission between fixed points, one point in the United States and another in a foreign State, and between shore stations and ships at sea it may be desirable to elaborate somewhat this memorandum.
All remarks above are based on the assumption that none of the provisions of the act apply to the construction of operation of stations by any department of the Government itself, always with the exception of land wire rates,