Today I read that Malaysia was establishing a government owned 5G services provider (Govt to build its own 5G network with Telekom Malaysia and Huawei (malaysianwireless.com)) with management provided by the government, the government linked incumbent telecom operator, Telekom Malaysia, and Huawei, the Chinese equipment provider. Malaysia may not be alone. As you may remember, the Trump Administration had explored such an approach as well (Trump Administration Considers a Government-Owned 5G Network (idropnews.com)).
This raises a number of issues including whether a government-owned monopoly is the best way to ensure that 5G services are deployed and operated. As experience has shown time and time again (and the history we trace in our documentary traces), a telecommunications marketplace defined by private sector competition leads to consumer benefits – from lower prices to innovative services. The period following the introduction of competition to AT&T in the United States and the privatization and liberalization of government-owned phone monopolies around the globe demonstrate that. In the immediate years following the introduction of competition, access to and the quality of telecommunications services greatly increased, and prices greatly decreased. Today, we continue to see the benefits of competition through the wide-variety of choices available in the marketplace.
I am the last to say our telecommunications marketplace is perfect. We struggle with a variety of issues including solving the digital divide and the like. I lived through the time when government and monopoly phone companies were the only choices. Where if a long-distance call was received, for instance, we could only talk literally to that person for a minute or two because the rates were astronomical. Where there was only one model of phone you could buy; back and chunky. I can tell you that we never want to revisit that time again. I prefer a time where I have a variety of services and providers I can choose from with reliable service.
One thing we can agree with is that 2021 brings great hope for the future that we will be able to slowly put aside the pandemic and return to our "normal lives." 2020 has been an extremely hard year for all of us and we have learned many lessons about our own resilience and the resilience of others. We also found ourselves, even those who were not adopters, to be increasingly reliant on telecommunications – whether it was to work, go to school, socialize and receive entertainment, receive health care, interact with our local government or one of many other functions that telecommunications can provide.
As I write this post, it’s hard not to reflect on what a different world we are living in today, versus when we began production of When Wire Was King (WWWK) in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for cutting-edge technology and science to find solutions at this pivotal moment in history, in order to provide global relief from the novel coronavirus.
As we kick off 2019, the team behind When Wire Was King (WWWK) has many reasons to celebrate and be thankful. Production of WWWK is going well and we are finalizing our trailer, which we are excited to release in early 2019! The team continues to be genuinely moved and amazed by the stories we hear and the insights to which we are privy from the telecommunications giants we interview.
I am so excited to kick-off my latest documentary film project, When Wire Was King. Much like my award-winning documentary, Zebrafish: Practically People, When Wire Was King is a passion project. As part of the telecommunications industry for over 25 years, I have been able to observe first-hand the impact that competition, innovation and regulation make in enabling the marvels of telecommunications.