30|Electronic Surveillance in a Digital Age
more than 99,000 miles of optical fiber.
Localtelephone companies had about 17,000 miles of optical fiber installed in 1985, and this grew toover 225,000 miles by 1993.
The recent explosion of wireless communica-tion has extended mobile service to more than 734metropolitan and rural service areas. These ser-vice areas geographically overlay the wiredtelecommunication systems to which they inter-connect. Currently, there are over 1,100 cellularswitches in operation in the United States.
Thegrowth of wireless communication has been re-markable. Today, there are more than 16 millioncellular subscribers, and the cellular industry esti-mates that subscribership will double by 1998.
Following behind is the next generation of wire-less services, the new Personal CommunicationServices (PCS), which are similar in function totoday’s cellular communication services, but newPCS entrants may develop entirely new servicesin the future, which could present different prob-lems to law enforcement agencies. Coming nextwill be satellite-based communications systemsfor personal communication that could extendwireless communication to nearly every quarter of the world.In addition, a convergence of digital and analogtechnologies is bringing other nontraditional sec-tors of the communication industry into what oncewas the domain of the telephone companies. Gov-ernment deregulation and industry restructuringhas the potential for further blurring the businesslines between the cable television industry andthe telephone carriers, and has raised the prospectthat electrical utilities might someday be com-petitors in the telecommunications market aswell.
Through the 1950s and into the 1970s law en-forcement’s wiretap requirements were easilymet. The nation’s telephone system largely con-sisted of twisted copper wires that connected sub-scribers to central office switches that routed thecalls to their destinations through copper cables oroverland via microwave radio, and later satellites.The transmitting and receiving instruments werecommonly used telephones. Business may havehad Private Branch Exchanges (PBX) to routetheir calls. But in general, it was a comparativelysimple system of wires connected to switches thatconnected to other wires that routed the calls tobusinesses and residences. Law enforcement offi-cials, armed with the necessary legal authoriza-tion, would simply physically connect “alligatorclips” to wire terminals and monitor the contentsof calls coming to and going from the telephoneline authorized in the wiretap order. (See figure2-1.) Since much of the system was under the con-trol of American Telephone and Telegraph(AT&T), although GTE and other independenttelephone companies operated as well, the nation-al system was largely based on the same stan-dards, operating protocol, and equipment designused by AT&T.In the recent past, additional complexities wereadded to the system when transmission technolo-gies for the copper-based analog system were de-veloped to provide more bandwidth, and hencespeed, to handle larger volumes of calls. A trans-mission mode referred to by its industry standardsname, “T1,” and a faster version “T3,” which wasoriginally developed for intrasystem high-speedtrunking, became available for high-volume us-ers, largely businesses.
Federal Communications Commission, Fiber Deployment Update, table 1, May 1994.
Id at table 5.
Testimony of Thomas W. Wheeler, President and CEO, Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, before hearings of the U.S.House of Representatives, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Telecommunications and Finance, Sept. 19, 1994.
Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, “The Wireless Factbook,” p. 36, spring 1994.
James Carlini, Telecom Services, “Utilities are Hungary for a Piece of the Action,”
, p. 55, Sept. 19, 1994.