Report of Subcommittee on International Gable and Radio Law and on Cable Landing Rights

To the Honorable Norman H. Davis,
President of the Preliminary Conference on Electrical Communications.

The Subcommittee on International Cable and Radio Law and Cable Landing Rights has held twelve meetings and has unanimously agreed to the appended regulations, which it recommends for adoption by the Conference.


The delegates of the principal Allied and Associated Powers, met in conference at Washington, unanimously agree to the following recommendation, with a view to its being examined by the forthcoming World Conference on Electrical Communications and, if accepted, embodied in a general convention.

That hereafter no permit shall be granted or renewed for the landing of submarine cables or the erection of radio stations for international communications without it being expressly declared that the permission does not confer a monopoly or exclusive rights of any kind.
That in principle they will not in future support their nations, diplomatically or otherwise, in seeking exclusive cable or radio concessions from nonsignatory states, provided that all the states adhering to the International Telegraph Convention undertake the same obligation.
Nevertheless, the Powers do not intend to prejudice the development of communications by cable or radio by preventing the granting of exclusive or privileged concessions for a reasonable term of years in cases where the probable traffic would not be sufficient to yield a fair return upon the capital invested in more than one system for the operation of the service in question.
If objection is made by one of the signatory powers to the granting or renewal of an exclusive concession within a reasonable time after such power becomes aware of such grant or renewal, or of an application for such grant or renewal, the question shall be submitted by the countries in interest to arbitration in accordance with the provisions of the International Telegraph Convention, or any convention of which it forms a part.
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Status of Cables in War Time

Without prejudice to any action that may have been taken during the war, or to any disposition of the seized German cables, the representatives of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, meeting in conference at Washington to consider problems of communications, recommend to their respective Governments that they should consider the desirability or otherwise of establishing an international code defining the status of submarine cables in war time; that the Principal Allied and Associated Powers exchange views upon the subject; and that a special conference be called of the Powers interested—to be held either at the Hague or preferably at the same time and place as the forthcoming World Conference on Electrical Communications—to consider the matter further if the Powers should agree in principle to establish such a code.

Prevention of Damage to Cables by Trawlers

The Delegates of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, in view of complaints that have been received from certain cable companies regarding damage to certain cables by trawlers, desire to call the attention of their governments, and all other governments concerned, to the provisions of the Convention of 1884 in regard to the Protection of Cables, and to the recommendations made by the International Conference in London in 1913, in regard to the prevention of damage to cables by trawlers, with a view to consideration of the questions whether the provisions of this Convention and these recommendations adequately meet present requirements, and whether, if so, they should not be applied universally. They suggest further that this question should be discussed by a conference of experts to be summoned simultaneously with the forthcoming World Conference on Electrical Communications which will follow the present preliminary conference.

As regards the use of islands and other points for relay stations, no agreement was reached, but the American, British and Italian Delegations as a result of discussions between themselves outside the committee feel able to recommend to their respective governments the following agreement, the text of which is annexed as a separate document, simply for the information of the other delegations, because the question originally arose out of certain discussions in the committee.

The subcommittee also considered a proposal that all states, in granting concessions for any international cable or radio service, should impose a condition that the licensee should observe the [Page 161] International Telegraphic Convention and Regulations. A majority of the delegations favored this proposal in principle, but the subcommittee eventually came to the conclusion that the matter would be satisfactorily covered by the proposed convention, provided the United States and Canada adhered to it. The proposal was accordingly withdrawn.

In both cases the right was reserved to submit the proposal in question to the forthcoming World Conference on Electrical Communications if circumstances should render such a course desirable.

, Chairman

Draft Agreement Regarding the Use of Islands and Other Points as Relay Stations

The undersigned, representatives of the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain and Italy, have concluded the following agreement providing for reciprocal facilities for the landing of cables for relay purposes, ad referendum to their respective Governments for approval and subject to ratification in accordance with their constitutional forms:

Certain points and islands shall be especially designated as available on equal terms to the nationals of all the states, signatory to this protocol, which give reciprocal facilities for the landing of cables for automatic relay purposes or for manual retransmission. The sovereignty of the state having jurisdiction over the point or island in question shall be in no wise impaired or limited except as provided in this agreement. If as a consequence of the point or island in question being made a military or specially defended area, it becomes desirable that a cable already landed on such point or island should be removed, the state concerned can require the removal of the cable in question on a reasonable notice. The detailed conditions governing the landing of a cable and its possible removal shall form the subject of agreement between the parties interested.

Messages in transit over such cables are not subject to interference, examination or censorship by authorities of the jurisdiction unless the state having jurisdiction is itself a party to a war or obligated to maintain neutrality or involved in a local disturbance; in the two latter cases supervision of messages is permitted only to the extent necessary in order to insure that no unauthorized local messages are transmitted.

Messages in transit over such cables are not subject to a transit tax nor are the owners of the cables subject to any taxation except an income tax upon the proceeds of any local business done and taxation [Page 162] upon the tangible property within the jurisdiction, which taxes shall be general and non-discriminatory. Persons engaged in the local operation of the cable and their property within the jurisdiction are subject to such general and non-discriminatory taxation as is or may be payable by all persons or property within the jurisdiction.

For the United States of America:
Norman H. Davis

A. S. Burleson

W. S. Benson

Walter S. Rogers

For Great Britain:
F. J. Brown

For Italy: