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Company's system. They also connect with the latter system through the medium of the United States land lines (owned and worked by American companies) and cables from Florida to Jamaica viâ Cuba.
These systems also serve British Guiana by wireless from Trinidad.
Australia and New Zealand are served by two routes: (1) by the Pacific Cable, which is owned and worked by the Pacific Cable Board (representing the British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand Governments) and runs from Bamfield (Vancouver) to New Zealand and Australia viâ Fanning and Fiji, being connected with the Imperial Atlantic Cables by means of a landline between Halifax and Bamfield leased from the Canadian Pacific Railway; and (2) by the cables of the Eastern and Associated Companies.
(b.) Eastern System.
This important system is owned by the Eastern Telegraph Company and its Associated Companies. There are seven cables starting from Porthcurno (Cornwall), of which one lands in Spain, two in Portugal, two at Gibraltar, one at Madeira, and one at the Azores. The Iberian routes are extended through the Mediterranean viâ Malta to Egypt, and thence down the Red Sea to Aden. There they separate, one route running to East and South Africa (see below) and the other to India, Ceylon and Singapore, and thence viâ the Dutch East Indies to Australia and New Zealand.
The cable to Madeira forms the first link in a second chain to South Africa, which runs viâ St. Vincent, Ascension and St. Helena, with branches to the West African Colonies. From South Africa it is extended across the Indian Ocean, so as to form a second route to Australia.
The cable to the Azores serves South America (viâ St. Vincent and Ascension).
It should be mentioned also that the Indo-European Telegraph Company have a system of landlines which before the war provided an alternative route to India, viâ Germany, Poland, Russia and Persia; being connected with Great Britain by means of leased wires in the Anglo-German Government Cables. This system has been repaired since the war, but is not yet worked for through traffic.
II.-IMPERIAL CABLE SERVICE.
The Imperial Cable No. I was formed by the diversion during the war of one of the Emden-Azores-New York cables, the eastern section being diverted to Penzance and the western section to Halifax. The cable thus formed was brought into use in July 1917.
Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany renounced all rights to these and other cables in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. The allocation of the cables has been discussed by the Powers, but an agreement has not yet been reached. The British claim, however, to retain the Imperial Cable has not been seriously challenged.
The Imperial Cable No. II was formerly the property of the Direct United States Cable Company, who had leased it to the Western Union Company. The latter company terminated the lease; and the British Government purchased the cable in November 1920. In November 1922 it was diverted from Ireland to Penzance, in order that it might be worked side by side with the Imperial Cable No. I.
The Imperial Cables cater specially for traffic with the Dominions. The service, as above mentioned, is worked in close connection with the Pacific Cable Board's service to Australia and New Zealand. The Board work the Halifax station on a repayment basis, and look after the interests of the Imperial Cables generally in Canada. Australasian traffic is sent over a special line leased from the Canadian Pacific Railway, which is worked by the Board direct between Halifax and Bamfield, the terminus of the Pacific cable. West Indian traffic is sent from Halifax by the British cable route viâ Bermuda.
The Imperial Cable Service re-established the deferred rate to Canada a considerable time before the Cable Companies did so, charging the pre-war deferred rate of 44d. to Eastern Canada, whereas the Companies, on reintroducing their deferred service, for some time charged 6d. a word, although they eventually came into line. The Imperial Service was also the first to introduce a 3d. Night Letter Telegram rate to Eastern Canada. For some years past the Week-end Service to Australia and New Zealand at quarter rates has been provided by the Imperial-Pacific route only. The Imperial Service alone has restored the deferred press rate to Canada at 2d. a word, and the Imperial-Pacific route alone has restored the deferred press rate to Australia and New Zealand at 44d. a word.
The Dominion Governments frequently in the past pressed proposals for the establishment of a Government Atlantic cable route, and now that such a route is available-and is the only trans-Atlantic cable route under purely British control-an appeal can be made with confidence to those Governments to give it their full support by arranging (as most of them do) for the transmission of all Government traffic over the route, and in any other way that may be open to them.
The position of the Imperial Cable Service as regards exchange of traffic with the Canadian National Telegraphs is not, however, altogether satisfactory. When the Imperial Cable No. I was first brought into operation, the Canadian Pacific Railway was the only organisation in a position to supply a connecting wire to Montreal, and it demanded, as a condition of doing so, an exclusive arrangement for dealing with traffic passing over the cable for Canada. This arrangement cannot be terminated until next year, and only then on payment of a substantial penalty. With some difficulty, arrangements were recently made with the Canadian National Telegraphs for the acceptance of traffic in Canada for transmission by the Imperial Cables; but when these arrangements came to the knowledge of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company it claimed that they were contrary to the spirit of the agreement with them; and although this contention is not admitted, the arrangements with the National Telegraphs have not yet been brought into operation.
III.-PACIFIC CABLE: PROPOSED DUPLICATION.
The Pacific Cable Board have for some time been considering proposals for the duplication of their route. The need for duplication is most urgent on the longest (and therefore slowest) link between Vancouver and Fanning Island; but it has been decided to postpone the laying of a new cable between these points and between Fanning and Fiji, partly on account of the very high cost and partly because of the prospects that a system of "loading" long-distance submarine cables may soon be perfected which would considerably increase the carrying capacity. Experimental tests are, however, being carried out in connection with the adoption of wireless transmission as a second means of communication between Vancouver Island and either Fiji or Fanning Island.
As regards the south-western links of the cable (south of Fiji), the four partner Governments have agreed to lay cables between Auckland and Suva and between Sydney and Southport; and contracts for the manufacture and laying of these cables have been placed. The date specified for the completion of the work is August 1923.
IV.-WEST INDIES SERVICE.
An Agreement was made in 1914 between the Imperial, Canadian and West Indian Governments and the West India and Panamá Telegraph Company providing for a large reduction in cable rates to the British West Indies in return for subsidies of £8,000 a year each from the Imperial and Canadian Governments, and of £10,300 a year from the various Colonies, making a total of £26,300 a year. The period was for ten years, expiring on the 30th September, 1924.
The Company's financial position has been steadily getting worse, and for some time past there has been serious risk that they would go into liquidation. They were given permission a few months ago to increase the rates between Great Britain and the British West Indies (excluding Jamaica) from 2s. 6d. to 3s. a word, the corresponding rates from the first zone of Canada and the United States being increased from 1s. 6d. to 2s. a word.
Recently an Inter-Departmental Committee has been considering the arrangements to be made on the expiration of the Panamá Company's Agreement in September 1924, and has recommended a scheme under which a new cable would be laid between Turks Island and Barbados, with branches from Barbados to Trinidad and Georgetown (British Guiana), while the smaller British islands in the Leeward and Windward groups would be served by wireless from Barbados. With the approval of the Cabinet, tenders have been obtained for the provision and laying of these cables and for the construction of wireless stations, and these tenders are now under the consideration of the Governments concerned.
For some time after the war there was serious delay on the Eastern and Associated Companies' cables, owing mainly to the growth of traffic and to the closing of the Indo-European Company's route to India viâ Germany and Russia and the Great Northern Company's route to the Far East viâ Siberia.
The Eastern Companies laid a new line of cables to Singapore in 1920; and they have recently completed a second line of cables to the Straits Settlements viâ Alexandria, Aden, Seychelles and Colombo. The opening of these cables has effected a substantial improvement in the service, which is now within measurable distance of its prewar efficiency. Some relief has also been afforded to the Eastern system by the reopening of the Great Northern Company's route across Siberia, and further relief will be afforded when the IndoEuropean Company's service between this country and India is reopened.
In connection with the laying of the above-mentioned second line of new cables (costing approximately £3,000,000) the Associated Companies asked that their landing rights should be substantially extended. Careful consideration was given to this request by the Imperial Communications Committee and by the South African and Indian Governments, and eventually it was agreed to extend the licences until the end of 1944. The conditions were substantially the same as those already in force (including the control of rates, half-rates for Government telegrams, &c.), with the addition of a clause providing that, if the State should at any time desire to expropriate the Companies' system (or a part thereof which would leave the Companies with a self-contained system) it should be free to do so, and that, failing agreement in regard to terms, the Companies should not oppose in principle a Bill promoted in Parliament by the Postmaster-General for the compulsory purchase of the cables iù question.
A statement is attached showing the principal cable rates in force in 1908 and at the present time.
The Eastern Company reduced their rate to South Africa from 2s. 6d. to 28. a word in December 1919, and made corresponding reductions in the rates to British West Africa and British East Africa. Further, in connection with the recent extension of their landing. rights, they have agreed to examine the possibility, when the capacity of their cable system has been increased, of making a reduction in the rate to the Straits Settlements (2s. 10d.) and in certain local rates between British Possessions in regard to which anomalies exist. They also agreed to restore the Week-end Services which were in operation on their system before the war as soon as traffic conditions. permit. As shown in SectionV, the delay on the Eastern system has been considerably reduced, and it seems probable that the Companies will be in a position to restore the Week-end Services before long.
The Australian Post Office have the right, under an agreement with the Eastern Extension Company, to require that Company to reduce the rate between the United Kingdom and Australia from 38. to 2s. 6d. a word, the Company bearing a reduction of 5d., and the Australian Administration (which charges a terminal of 5d. a word even on traffic which is collected or delivered by the Company or the Pacific Cable Board) reducing their terminal from 5d. to 4d. If this reduction had been made, a similar reduction would have been made on the Imperial-Pacific route. The Australian Administration decided, however, that in view of the pressure on the cables, the question of reducing the rate should be deferred. It is presumed that this question will be revived in the near future, especially if a wireless service is established.
It should be added that all recent licences to British Companies have provided for the control of rates. This takes the form of a clause providing that the Company may not increase existing rates without the Postmaster-General's consent, and that if the Postmaster-General calls upon the Company to reduce their rates and no agreement can be reached the question is to be referred to the Railway and Canal Commission, which shall have power to fix the rates.
VII.-IMPERIAL WIRELESS SCHEME.
In 1919 the Imperial Government authorised the completion of the stations of the original Imperial chain in England and Egypt,