In spite of Fessenden's expressed optimism that a radiotelegraph link between Schenectady, New York and Lynn, Massachusetts could be easily established, according to Susan J. Douglas' 1987 book, "Inventing American Broadcasting", it was never actually possible to set up reliable communication, and in 1905 General Electric canceled the contract.
The Electrical Age, December, 1904, page 453:
Overland Wireless Telegraphy
IN a letter to the Editor, under date of December 3, 1904, Mr. Reginald A. Fessenden, of the National Electric Signaling Company, of Washington, D. C., writes:--
"Your very interesting editorials on wireless telegraphy have been called to my attention, and I am fortunately able to supply information in regard to some of the points you mention.
"In connection with the Schenectady-Lynn transmission of 185 miles, I would say that in accepting this contract we are not endeavoring to go a longer distance than we have already found to be commercially operative, as we have for nearly a year been working between Washington and Philadelphia, which distance is nearly as great as that between Lynn and Schenectady, and have also worked between New York and Washington direct, which distance is considerably greater. As the heights of the antennæ used at these latter stations are only 132½ and 135 feet, respectively, and the power is only about ¼ H. P., while the masts at Schenectady-Lynn are 175 feet high and we shall use at least 1 H. P., it will be seen that the Lynn-Schenectady transmission does not involve anything new so far as distance is concerned.
"With reference to the other inquiry made, i. e., why, although our New York-Philadelphia stations have been operating for more than a year and our Philadelphia-Washington stations for nearly a year, we have never taken commercial messages, in spite of the fact that these lines are used regularly as means of communication between our New York and Washington offices, I would say that the reason is a very simple one, having no connection with the operation of the stations, and is as follows:--
"After we had been working our New York-Philadelphia stations for two months, we decided to go in for commercial work and arranged to open up offices in New York and Philadelphia. On making an estimate of the receipts which could be expected, two new points came up:--
"First.--There is very little profit to be made from running a single line between two large cities, as only about 500 messages can be handled per day of ten hours. Consequently, a multiplex system is needed to get good financial results.
"Second.--We found that there was a practical certainty that during certain times of the day the messages would come in faster than a single line could handle the business, and consequently either the messages would be delayed or else we would have to send the overflow by the Western Union and Postal Telegraph lines. If the messages were held, it would be said that the wireless lines were not reliable and did not give good service. If we sent the overflow messages by the wire lines, this fact would soon become known publicly and the statement would be made that the whole business was a fraud.
"In view of these facts we decided that it was inadvisable at present to take commercial work between these points until we had perfected our multiplex apparatus.
"I would say that at the present time the multiplex apparatus is in fairly good shape and is now capable of transmitting twelve messages simultaneously. We are, therefore, now in a position to go ahead with commercial work, but there are some other lines which our company desires to develop first, so that when we go into the commercial field we can do so on a large scale.
"In connection with this matter, I would say that during the last storm the National Electric Signaling Company offered the use of its wireless stations to the Postal and Western Union Telegraph lines for handling messages between Washington and New York, Washington and Philadelphia and Washington and Annapolis, which offer was not, however, accepted. But a considerable amount of private business was carried on during this time.
"It is obvious that the above commercial considerations do not apply to cases where a single line can handle the business, and consequently this company has been taking contracts for a number of private lines, such as the General Electric line, and also for a number of commercial lines. One of these latter lines is a duplex relay line, 1000 miles long, which is to take the place of two cables whose yearly gross receipts have been approximately a quarter of a million dollars."
[It is gratifying to notice that we have from a gentleman of Mr. Fessenden's large experience in wireless telegraphy so complete a confirmation of the statement in the October number of this journal, that "at best, the amount that a wireless circuit or two, in the present state of the art, will add to the existing overland wire facilities, is but a drop in the bucket." The statement that his system is now capable of transmitting twelve messages simultaneously is very interesting, but the immediately following remark is disappointing, namely, that his company desires to develop first some other lines before going into the commercial field on a large scale. This method is not the one that has usually been followed in wire telegraphy, but there are numerous precedents for it in wireless telegraphy. For example, it has frequently been implied in the public and technical press that long before now we should have had trans-Atlantic wireless telegraphy, but for the fact that the inventor was busy with preparations for more extensive signaling distances. Might it not also be suggested that possibly the New York-Philadelphia circuit, if ready for operation, would gladly be leased by some of the many important private users of the telegraph between those cities? If we do not misunderstand Mr. Fessenden's remark relative to the installation of a duplex relay wireless line to take the place of two cables, it is difficult to appreciate what is to be gained thereby--in other words, why displace two cables that are earning a quarter of a million dollars annually?--THE EDITOR.]