Tag Archives: telegraph

New FCC rules kick telegraph service into the 21st century

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInRedditEmail

The Federal Communications Commission isn’t giving up on the telegraph. In fact, it’s giving telegraph companies a turbo-charged boost of free market competition. But don’t worry, it isn’t going completely crazy. The FCC is making it very clear that telegraph service is still subject to common carrier rules. In a lighter touch sort of way, of course, since this new and improved FCC is gung ho about light touch common carrier regulation.

In a wonderfully circular bit of reasoning, the FCC has decided that since there aren’t any telegraph companies, it’s okay for them to discontinue service without giving notice, because that will promote telegraph competition…

No entities filing [service reports] in the past five years indicated that they provide telegraph service, and we are not aware of any interstate telegraph service providers today. Nor did any entities file comments or objections in response to this proposal in the Notice…

Telegraph service is obsolete, and we find that no purpose is served by requiring any remaining (or future) providers of telegraph service to file discontinuance applications with the Commission. Nor is the public interest served by maintaining outdated and unnecessary requirements in our rules or by expending future agency resources on the processing of any such applications. To the extent that common-carrier telegraph service will ever be offered in the future, allowing unregulated discontinuance would promote competitive market conditions.

I would like to believe that this FCC order was written in the waning minutes of an all hands keg party: you call that deregulation? I’ll show you deregulation – hey, Ajit, you’re not supposed to swallow the ping pong ball. The thought of grave and grey bureaucrats ponderously weighing the free market benefits of fewer telegraph rules against the public’s need to be protected from rogue key pounders is too much to bear.

Last call for telegraph companies, says FCC

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestLinkedInRedditEmail

Does this mean the end of the candygram too?

Just in time to bring broadband service under its regulatory umbrella, the FCC is doing some clean up work on its common carrier rules. It’s proposing to completely delete regulations it either hasn’t officially enforced in many years or are simply outdated, and to begin erasing telegraph from its vocabulary.

The first step, it seems, is to find out if telegraph service exists anymore…

We seek comment on whether there are any providers offering telegraph service today at all, and if so, whether such service offerings warrant retaining the term “telegraph” in the rules…Would there be any practical impact if the Commission were to delete “telegraph” from these rules?

If there are still telegraph companies out there, the FCC wants to let them know they can get out of Dodge anytime…

To the extent that any entities are still providing telegraph service, we intend to exempt telegraph service from all exit regulation by exercising our forbearance authority and we seek comment on whether we should do so.

Western Union formally exited the business of delivering telegrams in 2006. I’ve received a few in my life – the last was in 1981 – but all arrived via U.S. mail. Instead of sending a delivery boy out on a bicycle, Western Union just dropped off a batch of telegrams at the post office and let them take care of it from there.

Comments are due in March and can be submitted electronically or on paper. If you want to file by telegram, you’re in luck: “messenger delivery” is specifically allowed.