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Tuesday, 14 March 1961

Mr DAVIDSON - The honorable member has referred to a matter which has been engaging the attention of postal administrations for some considerable time, particularly in the last six months. I can assure the honorable member that my department is making the utmost endeavour to keep pace with trends in this vitally interesting and important development in the use of space satellites for communications. It is much too early to give any indication of the cost of communications by this method as compared with the methods already in use. I know that various statements have appeared in the press about the likely cost of sending telephone messages by this method, but at present that is pure conjecture, and quite a period of years will elapse during which a great deal of experimentation will be carried out, before we shall be in a position to say definitely what the cost will be. But I have no doubt that, in view of the very considerable expenditure that has been devoted to experimentation, eventually that form of communication will be adopted and its cost will compare favorably with that of other methods.

The honorable member asks whether it is likely that the development of this medium of communication will render obsolete the method which we are now developing, that is, the use of submarine telephone cables across the Pacific and the Atlantic. On present indications the cables that we are now installing will not be rendered obsolete by the development of space communications. I think that the two systems will work very well together, more or less in parallel. There is nothing in the present situation which should cause us to consider departing from the plan that we have developed for the use of submarine cables.

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