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History of Communications-Electronics in the United States Navy, Captain Linwood S. Howeth, USN (Retired), 1963, pages 501-512:


Radio  Conferences  During  the  Period  Between  World  Wars


At the First International Radio Conference, held in Berlin in 1903, delegates of the powers represented drafted a protocol governing the use of radio to be considered by a second conference to be assembled a year later. The Second International Conference, postponed by the Russo-Japanese War, met again in Berlin in 1906 and essentially agreed to these previously drafted agreements and regulations. The U.S. delegates took a leading part in drafting this covenant but unfortunately the Senate delayed ratifying it until 1912. Late in that year the Third International Conference convened in London and took actions to increase the utilization and regulation of radio to enhance safety of life at sea. At this time a decision was reached to hold the Fourth International Radio Conference during 1917. The U.S. Government extended an invitation to hold this in Washington. This invitation was accepted but as a result of World War I it was not convened until 1925.1


In 1921 representatives of the United States, France, Great Britain, Italy, and Japan met in Washington to discuss the international use of radio and to draft a protocol for consideration at the Fourth International Radio Conference. These representatives formulated a series of technical questions which could not be answered at the time and directed the assembling of a Technical Committee on International Radio Communications in Paris at the earliest possible time to consider and advise upon these questions. This Committee met from 21 June to 22 August 1921 and gave recommendations in the premises. In closing, the Committee recommended that the United States, being charged with calling the next international conference, should accept the task of preparing a revised presentation of the Washington draft, which would include the proposals presented by the Technical Committee, and communicate this to the other nations with an invitation to attend the Conference. It further recommended that these nations should transmit, within a definite period, all their objections, observations, and proposals with the understanding that no new matters would be presented during the Conference. Following receipt of objectives, observations, and proposals the United States was to transmit them to all attending nations in sufficient time to permit at least 6 months for their consideration prior to the convening of the Conference.2


Suddenly and unheralded, in 1921 radio broadcasting created one of the most fantastic booms in the history of the American people. Without prospect of monetary gain, unless the applicant was a manufacturer or purveyor of radio equipment, increasing numbers of requests for station licenses for broadcasting purposes poured into the Department of Commerce. Under the Radio Act of 1912 no power existed permitting the denial of a license to any reputable American citizen. At the time there were only two authorized frequencies for broadcasting purposes, 830 and 620 kc. By 1922 the conditions became so chaotic that President Harding directed Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover to convene a conference of manufacturers, broadcasters, radio amateur spokesmen, and civilian and military government radio communication personnel to study the problem and to make recommendations to alleviate the intolerable situation.
    In his opening speech to the members of this First National Radio Conference Secretary Hoover remarked:
We have witnessed in the last four or five months one of the most astounding things that has come under my observation of American life. This Department estimates that today more than 600,000 persons possess wireless telephone receiving sets, whereas there were less than 50,000 such sets a year ago. We are indeed today upon the threshold of a new means of widespread communication of intelligence that has the most profound importance from the point of view of public education and public welfare.3
    Although acrimony quickly developed between the several factions striving to gain control of the recently developed medium, all were in agreement that a definite U.S. radio policy was needed and that Federal control was essential.4
    The conferees recommended that the public and the Government have priority rights in the use of radio and that the existing inadequate laws should be changed to give the Government control over all transmitting stations. They recommended no restrictions upon the use of receivers but reannunciated the inviolability of the contents of private and official messages.
    Four classes of broadcasting were recommended:
    Public, by States, universities, and others disseminating educational information;
    Private, by stores, newspapers and others distributing news, entertainment or other services; and,
    Toll, by public service radio telephone companies as a paid service.5
    The increase in broadcasting stations necessitated that an increase in broadcasting frequencies be recommended. This required the invasion of that portion of the spectrum between 185 and 500 kc., formerly reserved for military and naval usage by national and international laws. Governmental broadcasting was allotted two frequency bands, 146 to 162 and 200 to 285 kc.; private and toll broadcasting was allotted the band 700 to 965 kc., public broadcasting was allocated the band between 1053 and 1090 kc.; and the amateurs were allowed the exclusive use of the band between 1500 and 2000 kc. and the frequency of 910 kc. plus the shared usage of the band 1090 to 1500 kc. with technical and training schools. No material changes in the frequencies utilized by ships, aircraft, fixed stations, radio beacons, and radio compass stations were recommended.6
    In view of the amount of commercial advertising on radio and television channels today it is of interest to note that this Conference recommended against this obnoxious means of advertising by limiting it to the announcement of the name of the program sponsor.
    It was recommended that the Secretary of Commerce be given the power to prohibit the use of radio-transmitting apparatus and methods which created unnecessary interference provided more satisfactory apparatus and methods should become reasonably and commercially available.7
    Recognizing that radio interference was one of the major problems of broadcast reception, the members submitted the following program for the study by the U.S. Bureau of Standards:
The reduction of the rate of building up of oscillations in radiating systems;
    The reduction of harmonics in continuous wave transmitters and of irregularities of oscillation;
    Comparison between the variable amplitude and the variable-frequency methods of continuous wave telegraphy;
    The preferable methods of telephone modulation to avoid changes in the frequency of oscillation;
    The proper circuit arrangements of regenerative receivers to avoid radiation of energy;
    The use of highly selective receiving apparatus, including a list of approved types;
    The use of receiving-coil aerials instead of antennas, with special reference to high selectivity;
    The reduction of interference with radio communication by other electrical processes, such as X-ray apparatus; and,
    The study and standardization of frequency meters.8
    In September 1922 Congressman Wallace H. White, Jr., of Maine, who had been a voluntary member of the First National Radio Conference, introduced a bill which embodied the recommendations of that Conference. The November issue of Radio Broadcast reported that this was "lost in the mazes of congressional procedure." Congress, always reluctant to enact legislation controlling radio, simply could not get the bill reported out of committee.9
    The Second National Radio Conference was held in 1923 but, without enabling legislation, the members could only reiterate the recommendations of the previous Conference. By the middle of 1923, 143 radio broadcasting stations had closed because of lack of income and the insistence of the writers of popular music that they be paid royalties for its use in radio broadcasting.10
    The failure of Congress to pass the White Radio bill convinced Secretary Hoover that he would be granted no authority in excess of that which he already possessed. With the concurrence of the major broadcast executives he issued a reassignment of frequencies for broadcasting stations in July 1923. Radio Broadcast for the following month stated:
. . . the Secretary of Commerce, acting in accord with the opinion of the radio experts and authorities of the country has reassigned frequencies to practically all the broadcasting stations in the country and has done it so well that we no longer have any cause for complaint. Instead of the bedlam of noise to which we had become almost accustomed, there is practically no interference at all.11
    This new system, which worked for a few weeks, had no compelling basis of law and unscrupulous and selfish individuals soon ruined the Secretary's excellent plan and the situation returned to its former chaotic condition.12
    The Third National Radio Conference convened in Washington on 6 October 1924. This was by far the most important of these Conferences. The present allocations of frequency bands stems from its recommendations. Military and naval communication systems voluntarily agreed to use the broadcast band 500-1600 kc. only on a noninterference basis. As a result of this shifting of frequency bands the Navy drew up its first complete radiofrequency plan which was approved by the President upon the recommendation of the Interdepartmental Radio Advisory Board. Later this plan became the basis for an international allocation of frequency bands.13
    In this Conference the members unselfishly endeavored to solve the problems of radio usage. This is amazing when one considers that it was held at the time when the controversy over broadcasting rights was being waged between the radio and telephone groups. Amateurs cooperated by voluntarily agreeing to abolish the use of spark transmitters and to discourage the use of oscillating receivers within the broadcast band.14
    One of the most significant and controversial events of the Conference was the advocation by Mr. David Sarnoff, Vice President of the Radio Corp. of America, of the establishment of a chain of 50-kw (superpowered) broadcast stations. This proposal was finally compromised by recommending the Secretary of Commerce issue licenses for such stations which could be revoked if it should be found by experience that they interfered with other stations.15
    The recommendations of the Conference resulted in dividing broadcasting stations into the three following classes:
Class    Kilocycles    Number of
1       550-1,070    63
2    1,090-1,400    32
3    1,420-1,460      5
    This provided for an increase of 10 channels for class 1 stations and the elimination of broadcasting below 550 kc.16
    For the first time in the U.S. allocations of frequencies bands above 2000 kc. were considered and the following usage was suggested:
Kilocycles    Service
95-120     Government, CW and ICW, exclusive.
120-157    Marine, CW and ICW, exclusive.
157-165    Point-to-point, CW and ICW. Marine, CW and ICW.
165-190    Point-to-point, CW, ICW, spark. Marine, CW and ICW.
190-230    Government, CW and ICW, exclusive.
230-235    University, college, and experimental, CW and ICW, exclusive.
235-250    Marine, phone, nonexclusive.
250    Government, CW, ICW, nonexclusive.
250-275    Marine, phone, nonexclusive.
275    Government, CW, ICW, nonexclusive.
275-285    Marine, phone, nonexclusive.
285-500    Marine and coastal, including radio compass and radio beacons.
500-550    Aircraft, CW, ICW, phone and fixed safety-of-life stations, phone, exclusive.
550-1,500    Broadcasting services, phone, exclusive.
1,500-2,000    Amateur, CW, ICW, phone.
2,000-2,250    Point-to-point, nonexclusive.
2,250-2,500    Aircraft, exclusive.
2,500-2,750    Mobile.
2,750-2,850    Relay broadcasting, exclusive.
2,850-3,500    Public service.
2,500-4,000    Amateur and Army mobile.
4,000-4,500    Public service and mobile.
4,500-5,000    Relay broadcasting, exclusive.
5,000-5,500    Public service.
5,500-5,700    Relay broadcasting, exclusive.
5,700-7,000    Public service.
7,000-8,000    Amateur and Army mobile.
8,000-9,000    Public service and mobile.
9,000-10,000    Relay broadcasting, exclusive.
10,000-11,000    Public service.
11,000-11,400    Relay broadcasting, exclusive.
11,400-14,000    Public service.
14,000-16,000    Amateur.
16,000-18,000    Public service and mobile.
18,000-56,000    Beam transmission.
56,000-64,000    Amateur.
64,000-infinity    Beam transmission.17
    The Committee on Marine Communications recommended allocation of the frequency bands recommended for this service as follows:
Kilocycles    Service
120-190    Unassigned, except as noted below, with the recommendations that allocations to various marine services be made by the Department of Commerce.
160-175, and 185    Government use. It was further recommended that the frequency of 185 kc. be used for ice-patrol broadcasting and for other navigational aid messages.
235-285    Marine radiotelephony. It was recommended that specific allocations within this band should be made by the Department of Commerce and, pending further developments, should be tentative.
343, 410 and 454    Ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communications.
425    It was recommended that ships now assigned this frequency be assigned other frequencies within a reasonable time.
315    Government use.
345-410    Radio compass.
445    Government use for aircraft and submarines, CW and ICW.
500    Exclusive for calling and distress signals and messages relating thereto.
2,500-2,750    Mobile marine services.18
    The Fourth National Radio Conference was convened in the autumn of 1925. The Secretary of Commerce had practically been forced to abandon his policy of issuing licenses to all applicants, for despite numerous failures of broadcasting stations, applications for new licenses increased by leaps and bounds. The Secretary keynoted his opening speech of this Conference by declaring the radio industry should solve its problems by private initiative and not be too ready to ask the Government to assume the responsibility. However, the members were almost unanimously in favor of the Department of Commerce in illegally assuming the responsibility, for reducing and limiting the number of stations. The Secretary yielded to this recommendation and assumed the authority.19 He also entered into an agreement with the Canadian Government which allocated the use of six broadcasting channels for the exclusive use of their broadcasting stations. Meanwhile, the Zenith Radio Corp. had applied for license for a station in Chicago. This was granted and the station was assigned a frequency shared with a General Electric Co. station in Denver. Only a few hours a week were available to the Chicago station. This was unsatisfactory to Zenith officials who requested the assignment of one of the channels which had been allocated to Canada. Their request was denied. They then ignored the prescribed rules and the Zenith Co. was promptly sued by the Government. On 16 April 1926, a decision was rendered which did not uphold the right of the Department of Commerce to assign frequencies. The Attorney General of the United States was forced to issue the edict that the Secretary of Commerce had no power to withhold licenses from reputable U.S. citizens, nor authority to prescribe frequencies for or hours of operation of stations. With the last vestige of control removed one can readily picture the conditions which immediately ensued. This country, scheduled to be the host nation for the first International Radio Conference since 1912, unable to control an industry within its own boundaries and unable to enforce international agreements, set a horrible example for the remainder of the world.20


Immediately following the edict issued by the Department of Justice a new bill establishing a Federal Radio Commission, with authority to allocate commercial frequencies and hours of usage as well as to prescribe and supervise radio discipline, was agreed upon. This action was taken too late for the bill to be enacted into law prior to the adjournment of Congress. It was considered and passed in early 1927 and was signed by President Coolidge on 25 February 1927. The new established commission consisted of five members. The President immediately nominated Rear Adm. W. H. G. Bullard, USN (retired), as chairman and Messrs. Orestes H. Caldwell, Eugene O. Sykes, Henry A. Bellows, and John F. Dillon as members. Three of the Commission's members were confirmed on 4 March. One of the other two, Mr. Bellows, resigned on 8 October prior to confirmation. Colonel Dillon, one of the three early confirmed, died on that day and the chairman, Rear Adm. Bullard, died of a heart attack on Thanksgiving Day of the same year. The organization meeting was held on 15 March 1927.21
    The lack of understanding of the radio situation by most of our legislators is evidenced by the provision of this Radio Act of 1927 which envisioned that the licensing authority of the Commission would be returned to the Department of Commerce at the end of one year and thereafter the Commission would only act in an advisory and appellate capacity.22 No engineering staff was provided to assist the members in their gigantic task. In order to provide such assistance, and to eliminate the chaotic conditions which were rendering naval radio communications on and near our coastlines practically impossible, the Navy Department volunteered the services of the Radio Division of the Bureau of Ships. This proffer was accepted.
    The initial action taken by the Commission occurred on 17 April 1927 when it ordered 129 stations, which had been operating on unassigned frequencies, to return to the frequencies previously assigned them by the Department of Commerce.23
    Having established the Commission, Congress immediately proceeded to make it a political football. Broadcasters sought more favored frequencies and enlisted the support of their Congressmen as well as their listeners. The latter were encouraged to write directly to the Commission as well as to their Congressmen imploring that the station of their choice be given most favorable consideration. The Commission was quickly buried under an avalanche of letters and affidavits. One station, alone, is purported to have filed 170,000 affidavits collected from its listeners.24 Constant congressional pressure was brought to bear upon each member of the Commission. Lawrence F. Schmekebier stated, "Probably no quasijudicial body was ever subject to so much congressional pressure as the Federal Radio Commission. Much of this, moreover, came at a time when several members of the Commission had not been confirmed."25
    Even under favorable conditions it is doubtful that the Commission could have executed its licensing responsibility within the alloted year. Faced with outside interference and loss of membership, it made slow progress and even that was subject to the most severe criticism. Congress, in March 1928, reluctantly extended the Radio Commission's authority for another year but curbed its authority by providing for five broadcasting zones and "a fair and equitable allocation among the different States thereof in proportion to population and area."26 This amendment was subject to different interpretations by the several Commission members and hindered them in carrying out their responsibilities. This resulted in additional legislation being enacted in 1929 and thereafter such legislation became increasingly frequent.27


The Fourth International Radio Conference had been scheduled to convene during 1917 with the U.S. Government as host. World War I prevented this meeting. Following the conclusion of the war, the members of the Inter-Allied Radio Conference endeavored to convene this Conference at an early date. They established a Technical Committee to submit proposed redrafts of the London Convention of 1912 which would provide a new convention more in keeping with technological advances in radio. The U.S. Government agreed to circulate these proposals through diplomatic channels to the numerous nations which were to be invited to the Conference in order that they might have at least 6 months to study them prior to the convening of the Conference. The initial deliberations of this Technical Committee coincided with the beginning of enormous technological improvements in radio equipment and with the commencement of radio broadcasting. The improvements were so rapid that the Technical Committee could not make the required changes and have them circulated and studied before these changes required modifications. This condition continued for several years and was further complicated by the development of the use of short waves and the concurrent expansion of the spectrum and an increase in international radio interference.
    Finally, on 4 October 1927, a decade later than its original scheduling, the Conference was convened in Washington. Almost 300 delegates, from 79 countries, including those of several colonies and possessions which were authorized independent action, were participants. The primary purpose of the Conference was to formulate international, regulations to minimize interference between radio stations engaged in international service or which were international in their capabilities of creating interference.28
    The U.S. delegation of 15 members, appointed by President Coolidge, was headed by the Hon. Herbert Hoover, Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Capt. T. T. Craven, USN, Director of Naval Communications, was the Navy member. Capt. S. C. Hooper, Comdr. F. H. Roberts, Lt. Comdrs. W. S. Hogg, Jr., T. A. M. Craven, R. H. Blair, and L. Cooper and Lt. A. I. Price, all of the U.S. Navy, were designated technical advisors. Lt. Comdr. Tully Shelley, USN, was a member of the reception committee.29
    The Conference was opened with a welcoming address by President Coolidge which was immediately followed by addresses by Secretary Hoover, Col. T. F. Purvis, chief of the British delegation, and Mr. G. J. Hotker, chief of the Netherlands delegation.30 Conforming to international protocol Secretary Hoover was installed as the presiding officer of the Conference.
    Secretary Hoover's address stressed the necessity of providing regulations which would not impede advances in the art or fetter the minds of persons who might be directed toward scientific discovery and technical improvement. He pointed out that the London Conference had to deal with but a few frequencies which concerned calling and communication channels for ships' use but that the present Conference must concern itself with the entire usable radio spectrum. He stated that the radiotelephone, broadcasting, direction finding, beacons, facsimile, aircraft, and the thousands of amateurs engaged in international communication, research, and experimentation had resulted in an enormous expansion of the original application of radio. He closed his address with a plea that the conferees endeavor to reach an international understanding to control these extended uses of radio.31
    At the plenary session the following committees were established to facilitate and expedite the work of the conferees:
Committee for revision of the London Convention;
General Regulations Committee;
Mobile and Special Services Regulation Committee;
Point-to-point and Other Fixed Services Regulation Committee;
Tariff Committee;
Technical Committee;
Drafting Committee; and,
International Code of Signals Committee.
The United States proposed the use of both French and English and offered to provide the interpretors. This was agreed to by the Conference.32
    In some countries radio was a government or quasi-government monopoly while in others it was purely a commercial operation. Difficulties arose as to the legality of regulating the latter. On a motion of the United States, this was solved by dividing the regulations into two parts, General Regulations and Supplementary Regulations. Those regulations and rules of a managerial nature and relating to the operation of radio service were put in the Supplementary Regulations. These were not to be signed by the delegates of the United States and other countries where radio was a commercial venture. A provision making the regulations of the International Telegraph Convention, to which the United States was not a party, applicable to radio was included in the Supplementary Regulations.33
    The Convention as accepted, contained 24 articles, couched in broad terms covering the licensing of transmitting stations and operators, the inviolability of the contents of messages, intercommunication between ship and ship, and ship and coastal stations, the settlement of commercial accounts, the establishment of an international radio consulting committee, the allocation of blocks of call letters by nations, and the settlement of disputes concerning radio matters by arbitration.34
    The radio arbitration plan caused a rift to develop during a plenary session held on 19 November. Japan and Great Britain opposed the inclusion of this article which was strongly advocated by the delegations of the United States, Argentina, Mexico, and Uruguay. The motion in favor of the article was brought to vote after extensive debate and effort at compromise, and was carried. This was the first treaty to which the United States was a party which contained an unconditional, compulsory arbitration clause.35
    The General Regulations contained articles. The most important of these, article 5, dealt with the allocation of frequencies. Frequency was adopted as the standard of measurement, supplanting the less accurate means of specification by wavelength. Instead of making frequency allocations by countries, the Conference made allocation to specific services, all nations having equal rights to the uses of these specified bands. The allocations basically conformed to those established in the United States based upon the recommendations of its Third National Radio Conference. The band from 10 to 100 kc. was assigned to stations engaged in point-to-point service, chiefly transoceanic service. The band from 100 to 550 kc. was designated primarily for ship-to-ship, ship-to-shore, and aircraft services. This included radio beacons on a band at about 300 kc. and provided for a radio compass service on a band around 375 kc. The 500-kc. frequency remained the international calling and distress wave and could be used for message traffic only on condition that interference with call signals and distress signals would not result. The band between 194 and 285 kc. was one on which it was somewhat difficult to secure agreement. This difficulty arose because many of the European countries desired to utilize it for broadcasting. It was finally agreed that part of this band could be used for broadcasting in Europe only, and that the rest of the band would be assigned to mobile and aircraft services and to fixed stations not open to public correspondence. The band from 550 to 1500 kc. was universally recognized as the broadcasting band. One frequency in this band, 1365 kc. was assigned to small ships. The entire band could be used by mobile service in any part of the world on a noninterference basis. The band between 1500 to 60,000 kc. was divided into 40 smaller bands and apportioned between mobile services, communication between fixed stations, broadcasting, and amateur stations. This allocation of the short waves involved some changes from the Third National Radio Conference allocation, but had the advantage of giving some assurance that stations of a given type operating in this band would be able to continue their operation subject only to the adjustment of interference with other stations engaged in similar service.36
    The Conference gave definite recognition to the amateur in international radio communication by allocating for amateur use four exclusive bands and two nonexclusive bands. This was accomplished by the efforts of the American delegation supported by the Canadian and New Zealand delegations. This provision gave amateurs greater assurance of making international contact one with another.37
    Although the Conference recognized that the allocation of frequency bands to specific services was necessary to minimize interference, there was a corresponding desire to leave to each country, or to groups of countries in a certain region, as much freedom as possible in making assignments to stations which are not international in their effect. Freedom was left for the assignment of any frequency to any station which could not cause international interference.
    It was recognized that it was inadvisable to write into the regulations definite provisions of a technical or engineering nature which might become obsolete during the next few years. Instead, general provisions calling for the maintenance of a high technical standard were adopted. For example, article 4 of the General Regulations required that a station must maintain its authorized frequency as closely as the state of the art would permit, and its radiation must be kept as free as practicable from all emissions not essential to the authorized type of communication. The various nations were allowed to fix the allowable tolerance between the assigned and transmitted frequencies, and they agreed, to take progressive advantage of technical improvements to reduce this tolerance. The width of the frequency band of a transmitter was required to be reasonably consistent with good current engineering practice for the type of emission.38
    The conferees considered that definite dates must be set on which certain restrictions on the use of damped-wave transmitters would become effective. The regulations provided that no further installations of transmitters of this type would be installed at fixed or land stations and that, after 1 January 1930, such transmitters installed on ships should, at full power, use less than 300 watts measured at the input of the supply transformer. It was provided, however, that no restriction should be placed upon the means which an operator of a mobile station in distress could use in attracting or in indicating his position and obtaining assistance.39 The use of existing damped-wave transmitters was to be discontinued by all land stations prior to 1 January 1935.
    The Regulations annexed to the London Convention were applicable exclusively to ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore services. In the Washington Convention most of the Regulations were applicable to mobile service, including aircraft. Provisions were included covering the use of traffic frequencies, the necessary control of traffic by land stations, the routing of messages by mobile stations, and other related matters. The Regulations required absolute priority for distress calls and messages and traffic pertaining thereto. A radiotelephone distress call consisting of the spoken expression "May Day" was included in addition to the telegraphic signal. "SOS." Provision was also made for the use of a special signal for setting into operation an apparatus to give an automatic alarm and to warn someone on a ship fitted with such an installation that a distress signal would follow. A safety signal, "TTT," was also established to be used as a preamble for messages concerning the safety of navigation or containing meteorological warnings. Article 6 of the General Regulations covered the issuance of operator's certificates. These provisions differed but little from the existent requirement of the United States, except that a chief operator's license on a vessel of the first class could only be issued to persons who had a year's experience under a first-class license. Provisions were included designating the hours of service for ships with one or with two operators. Complete revised lists of abbreviations or operator's procedure signals were included. These were also made applicable to aircraft communications.40
    Throughout their work, the delegates endeavored to keep before them the principle, enunciated by the presiding officer, that the conclusions of the Conference should be of such a nature as not to interfere with the development of the art. The regulations adopted were the absolute minimum necessary to maintain orderly communications. The Convention and annexed Regulations became effective on January 1, 1929 for all of the ratifying governments. The Governments of Spain, Egypt, and Holland volunteered to be host to the next Conference scheduled for 1932. The invitation of Spain was accepted.41
    In this most important of all the international radio conferences, every effort was made by all of the delegates to secure the correct solution of the problems under discussion. The technical questions in particular were usually, discussed, and the conclusions arrived at, from a technical rather than a nationalistic standpoint. The general attitude was one of cooperation and of realization that the problems should be solved on their merits.
    The preliminary work of the U.S. delegation and their technical assistants was thorough and of the highest order. With an allocation plan, based on services, ready to lay before the conferees, the U.S. delegation was in a position to dominate the Conference. Our delegation was ably supported by the French and Italian delegations as well as by most of those of the Western Hemisphere. In the many committee and subcommittee meetings our delegates never failed to show unanimity of opinion and effort to obtain decisions which would eliminate interference and further the art. The Navy was an important factor in the matter of radiofrequency allocation, in furthering the interests of the amateurs, and in protecting the interests of commercial communications against unnecessary governmental controls.42
    In his closing address, made on 25 November 1927, Secretary Hoover stated:
It is a great honor to be able to congratulate the delegations and in fact the peoples of their countries on the successful issue of this Conference. That the representatives of 80 different governments, the largest international conference of history, have been able to sit together for a period of 7 weeks and, without any important disagreement, to reach a unanimous conclusion upon so highly a technical and so difficult a problem, is in itself, not only a sign of progressive capacity of the world to solve international problems, but it is a fine tribute to the character and spirit of the delegations from all these nations.
    The effects of this Conference and other national developments during 1927 were ably summed by the Director of Naval Communications, Capt. T. T. Craven, USN. He stated that the Fourth International Conference provided an agreement which made international administrative conditions more stable; the Federal Radio Commission was making the Radio Act of 1927 effective; and that national policies were becoming more firmly established. As a result of these developments, radiofrequency allocations would be more stable than heretofore and permit the improvement of radio communications equipment along definite lines. This would permit the more rapid advancement of the naval communications improvement program.43
    The Navy willingly gave up the use of many frequencies in the successful endeavor to obtain allocations based on usage. The elimination of interference on their assigned frequencies far outweighed these losses. Basic exchanges were those of 75, 85 and 95 kc. for five frequencies between 400 and 485 kc. and 315 kc. for 355 kc. Other losses necessitated the rearrangement and sharing of frequencies by certain of the naval shore radio stations.44
    The Washington Conference established the International Technical Consulting Committee on Radio Communications. The purpose of this body was to provide opinions and advice on technical questions of radio communications which might be submitted by adhering nations or private enterprises. This Committee, which met between International Radio Conferences, was limited to advising the International Berne Bureau of Telecommunications on questions studied. The Bureau transmitted these advices to participating nations and private enterprises concerned to provide a basis for determination of technical standards to be adopted in drafting succeeding conventions.


The Fifth International Radio Conference was held, as scheduled, in Madrid in 1932. For the first time it was held concurrently with the International Telegraph Conference. This Radio Conference was the least important of all those held. The work of the previous one had been so complete and the worldwide economic depression had resulted in the reduction in research capabilities and the resultant lack of progress in the art. The Conference was concerned primarily with further interference reduction, providing additional communication facilities for the rapidly expanding use of aircraft, making available additional broadcast channels in the European area where chaotic broadcast conditions existed, and in expanding the spectrum upward from 23,000 to 30,000 kc. This Conference also recognized the effectiveness of high-frequency communications for mobile marine stations and the resultant convention assigned specific high-frequency channels for this purpose in order to further reduce interference and to provide useful long-distance communication facilities.45


The Sixth International Radio Conference was held in Cairo, Egypt, with the opening session being held on 1 February, 1938. Prior to this Conference the need for regional considerations of common interests was recognized. In 1937 a conference of North American countries concerning the broadcast bands was held in Ottawa. Another conference of Western Hemisphere nations was held in Lima, Peru, to discuss aeronautical radio and, finally, one of all American countries was held in Havana to consider the Western Hemisphere position at the forthcoming conference. Similar regional conferences were held by the European nations.46
    The United States delegation to the Cairo Conference was headed by Senator Wallace H. White of Maine. He was assisted by three other delegates, one each from the War and Navy Departments, and one from the Federal Communications Commission.47 Capt. S. C. Hooper, USN, was a delegate.
    The Cairo Conference was important because of the rapid increase in hemispheric and transoceanic aviation, the increased uses of high frequencies, and the uses of the newly developed portion of the radio spectrum between 30 and 300 mc.
    The more important changes incorporated in the convention were:
Designation of radio channels for the world's seven main intercontinental air routes, including calling, safety, and service channels;
    Requirement that aircraft flying maritime routes carry radio equipment capable of operating on the distress frequency of 500 kc.;
    Widening high-frequency broadcast bands to 300 kc. and assignment of special bands for tropical regions:
    Limiting the use of spark transmitters to three channels and making it unlawful to use such transmitters with an output in excess of 300 watts;
    Limiting the frequency tolerance and decreasing bandwidth tables;
    Allocation for service uses of bands between 30 and 300 mc.;
    Narrowing of bandwidth assigned amateurs;
    Provision of meteorological services for use of balloon-carried miniature transmitters;
    Establishment of 5000 kc. as the dividing line between regional and international frequencies;
    Slight improvements in operating regulations based upon experience; and,
    Provision for holding regional radio conference.48
    Prior to completing their work the conferees accepted the invitation of the government of Italy to hold the next Conference in Rome in 1942. This did not materialize because of World War II. Instead, the next International Radio Conference was held in Atlantic City following that war.

    1 Supra, Ch. XII.
    2 "Report of the Technical Committee on International Radio Communications," p. 2.
    3 Gleason L. Archer, "History of Radio to 1926," the American Historical Society, Inc., New York, 1938, pp. 248-249.
    4 Ibid.
    5 Popular Radio, 1922, p. 61.
    6 Ibid., p. 62.
    7 Ibid.
    8 Ibid., p. 63.
    9 Gleason L. Archer, "History of Radio to 1926," the American Historical Society, Inc., New York, p. 281.
    10 Ibid., p. 317-318.
    11 Ibid.
    12 Ibid.
    13 Ibid., pp. 350-351.
    14 Ibid., p. 351.
    15 Ibid.
    16 "Recommendations For The Regulations Of Radio," adopted by Third National Radio Conference, Washington, Government Printing Office, 1924, p. 17.
    17 Ibid., p. 15.
    18 Ibid., pp. 20-21.
    19 Gleason L. Archer, "History of Radio to 1926," the American Historical Society, Inc., New York, 1938, p. 567.
    20 Gleason L. Archer, "Radio and Big Business," the American Historical Society, Inc., New York, 1939, pp. 271-272.
    21 Ibid., p. 306.
    22 Ibid., p. 425.
    23 Ibid., p. 307.
    24 Ibid., pp. 306-307.
    25 "The Federal Radio Commission," service monograph of the U.S. Government No. 65, p. 55.
    26 Davis amendment to the Radio Act of 1928.
    27 Gleason L. Archer, "Radio and Big Business," the American Historical Company, Inc., New York, 1939, pp. 425-426.
    28 Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers 1928, W. D. Terrell, "The International Radio Telegraph Conference of Washington, 1927," p. 409.
    29 U. S. Naval Communication Division Bulletin No. 58, 18 Oct. 1927, p. 2.
    30 Ibid., p. 1.
    31 Ibid., pp. 1-2.
    32 Ibid., P. 2.
    33 Institute of Radio Engineers, 1928, W. D. Terrell, "The International Radiotelegraph Conference of Washington, 1927," pp. 409-411, the Wireless Engineer. "The Washington International Radiotelegraphic Convention 1927," p. 667.
    34 Ibid. App. N contains extracts of this Convention.
    35 Washington Post, 20 Nov. 1927.
    36 Institute of Radio Engineers, 1928, W. D. Terrell, "The International Radiotelegraphic Conference of Washington, 1927," p. 412.
    37 Ibid.
    38 "International Radiotelegraph Conference, and General and Supplementary Regulations Thereto," Washington, Government Printing Office, 1937.
    39 Ibid.
    40 Ibid.
    41 Ibid.
    42 U. S. Naval Communications Bulletin No. Sixty, 15 December 1927.
    43 Ibid., p. 2.
    44 Ibid.
    45 Journal of American Society of Naval Engineers, vol. 51, no. 2, May 1939. "International Telecommunication Conferences," S. C. Hooper, pp. 159-160.
    46 Ibid., p. 159.
    47 Federal Communications Commission, successor to the Federal Radio Commission was established as a permanent commission by act of Congress in 1934.
    48 Journal of American Society of Naval Engineers, vol. 51, no. 2, May 1959. "International Telecommunication Conferences," S. C. Hooper, pp. 169-175.
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