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Chapter 2:
The Legal and Regulatory Environment of Telecommunications
When the telegraph was first used in the United States and other nations, the systems were completely independent of one another and evolved somewhat differently. All of these systems carried pulses of electricity by wire to send letters of the alphabet to distant places. However, how the pulses were encoded to represent the alphabet(s), the voltages and currents carried in the wires, and the cost to send a message differed from system to system. When these systems begun to be interconnected, the issues of technical compatibility and of accounting arose, prompting lawmakers and international organizations to set standards and procedures. On the technical side, such issues as commonality of the letter coding and voltages allowed independent national systems to be connected to one another. On the business side, companies and nations were forced to decide how to account and charge for a telegram that originated in one country for delivery to another, perhaps after transiting a third country. The legal and regulatory problems are a complex, messy mixture of engineering and sociopolitical philosophy that is changing with time. In this attempt to give an overview of these aspects of satellite telecommunications, you may note that this is one of the longest chapters in the book, and yet only skims the surface.
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