|Montreal, February 7, 2004 / No 137|
by Harry Valentine
The idea of telecommunications without any form of economic regulation, not even a marketing tribunal, would likely be met with trepidation by regulated telecommunications companies. Without a regulator to "capture" so as to protect their commercial interests, they would likely initiate some kind of action that would result in the re-introduction of regulations. Nevertheless, exploring how telecommunication services could be provided without any governmental protection from competition may be worthwhile.
At the present state of technology, each fiber-optic strand (25-strands per cable) can carry some 1.5-million simultaneous signals without interference. North America's fiber-optic cable system presently operates at 4% capacity. Any single pair of wires in a private telephone line (4-wires per line) can simultaneously carry several signals allowing customers to make a telephone call while being online using a telephone-line based high-speed internet service. Cable TV companies now offer cable TV services and high-speed internet services, sending multiple simultaneous signals to each customer via co-axial cable technology. They now offer their customers reception to 4-separate television sets (each on a different channel) along with high-speed internet service. Research under way in Japan (Osaka University), China and Korea is enabling multiple simultaneous transmission of signals on a single frequency and/or amplitude of radio wave, without interference.
The advancing technology that is continually increasing the number of messages that may be simultaneously carried on a single fiber, co-axial cable, pair of wires or radio wave, is called multiplexing. In a regulatory free environment, telephone companies would expand their multiplexing technology to carry radio and television (TV) signals on their telephone lines, providing customers with the choice of telephone, television, radio and/or high-speed internet service. A little "black box" that plugs into each customer's telephone outlet, separates the various telecommunications signals to allow simultaneous operation of telephone, television (radio) and/or high-speed internet service without interference. Cable TV companies would expand their existing services, offering customers an increased variety of telecommunications signals on their coaxial cables, including telephone services.
A unique form of multiplexing in the UK allows telephone and internet signals to travel along local electric power lines. An electronic "black box" located near each customer's fuse box separates telecommunications from electric power. In an unregulated telecommunications environment, Canadian power companies could modify the British technology to carry radio, TV, internet or telephone signals on their lower voltage local power networks. Canada uses 110-Volt AC house power (vs. 220-Volt AC in the UK), requiring that modifications be made to this technology to carry radio and TV signals, even telephone and internet services into private homes in Canada. These signals may even be distributed to all apartments in high-rise complexes, using each building's electrical system. Multiple television sets playing in large apartment buildings have been known to "backfeed" TV signals into some building electric power systems, where their presence can sometimes be measured using an oscilloscope.
Apartment building owners may install advanced large-antennae technology on the roof of each building, to receive a wider range of radio and TV signals and distribute them to each unit using each building's electrical system. This option could supplement TV and radio signals supplied from outside electric power line. A much larger variety of mainly local radio and TV channels would become available at a very low cost to apartment dwellers as well as to private homes. People would merely plug an electronic black box into any electrical outlet to separate telecommunication from electric power.
In an unregulated environment, rural Canadian residents could gain access to a wider range of telecommunications. They are connected to electric power lines and to telephone lines that can carry radio and TV signals. The high-strength (glass-fiber) centre cable of high-voltage long-distance cables is able to transmit telecommunications signals over long distances, including to the rural communities the cables pass by. More rural communities could receive a wider variety of telecommunications signals from the power lines of an electric power company that has added telecommunication services to its business portfolio, or from the telephone lines of an unregulated telephone company.
Advances in the multiplexing of radio waves could result in more local radio stations being able to broadcast to local audiences across Canada. The Canadian nationalists' agenda of using telecommunications as a means to protect Canadian culture (whatever that is), could actually be realized in a telecommunications environment that is totally free from any form of economic regulation or market entry restriction. Instead, the nationalists have chosen authoritarianism and forcible coercion in a regulated environment, to impose their agenda. They fear that despite the total absence of any forcible coercion from outside Canada, and thus by their own voluntary choice, Canadians will be "assimilated into the American culture." By having expressed such fear and having to resort to authoritarian means, Canadian nationalists have not only admitted to the sheer worthlessness of their cause, they've already admitted failure and defeat.
In a totally regulation-free telecommunications environment, user-pay (encrypted) satellite TV broadcasters could reach only subscription-paying customers. Global positioning satellite (GPS) technology could be used to identify each customer's location. Earlier spy satellite technology allowed optical equipment aboard an orbiting satellite to clearly focus on newspaper headlines from over 1,500-miles above land. The combination of these technologies along with advancing multiplexing technology would transmit confined (narrow) beams to each customer's property, where a satellite reception dish would receive the signals. Providers would thus respect the property rights of non-customers and prevent piracy of (encrypted) user-pay satellite TV programs. At present, non-customers are forbidden by force of law from accessing encrypted satellite TV signals that cross their private property lines.
Infinite governement control
During the 20th century, various national governments have asserted exclusive ownership rights or authority over all or part of the total spectrum of electromagnetic waves that travel through the air. These electromagnetic waves are a natural manifestation of the universe. Radio signals can be transmitted along these naturally occurring waves artificially generated to transmit signals. Canada's government claims authority over waves of frequencies under 3-trillion cycles per second (3-gigahertz). Human speech falls between 20 and 20,000-cycles per second. Having claimed authority over this airwave frequency, this government may have indirectly given itself authority over the freedom of speech, the constitution notwithstanding. During the emerging era of multiplexing, the airwaves could have a simultaneous telecommunications transmission capacity approaching infinity. A deluded government that has lost touch with reality may actually appoint a bureaucracy or tribunal to undertake the lunatic mandate of trying to regulate this virtual infinity.
In this day and age, economic regulation is the policy of a government that may already have been hijacked by politically-favoured, regulated industries which have successfully "captured" regulators, related government officials and even an elected member of the government, for the purpose of protecting their own commercial interest. A "captured" government enacting laws and regulations to protect the commercial interest of regulated industries can only lose its credibility.
Under such circumstances, a nation's justice system risks being indirectly manipulated into becoming an unsuspecting accomplice in protecting the commercial interest of regulated industries. Jurists will find themselves bound by laws and regulations devised to serve such commercial interest, then have to render judgments on such a basis. The integrity of a nation's court system could be compromised as a direct result of the regime of economic regulation. The alternative would be to close all regulatory tribunals.
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