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.
I still remember when telecommunications was a monopoly service in the United States – when a long distance call was the equivalent of an emergency because of the cost. When, in the 1980s and my mother could finally obtain a phone other than a black dial phone, it was a day of celebration in my family! In fact, when many people who were alive in the 1980s or before are asked what is the biggest change they have seen in their lives, the answer often involves technology and the communications revolution.
Those monopoly days are long gone. Today, even though we may complain, a range of choices and services is available to us that could not even be imagined in the early days of competition in the 1980s - -whether it is streaming video so we can binge watch, Skype with our friends a world away for pennies, use our Fitbits to stay in shape, or a million other different uses. However, these choices are still not available to everyone, even in the United States, and at times economic choices are made by the companies that control our telecommunications markets and have access to scarce natural resources, like spectrum, that do not benefit consumers. This is where, even today, regulation remains a necessary evil. Our hope remains, however, that regulators, when they must step in, do so in a way that enables the market and the provision of service, and do not result in unnecessary distortions such that consumers actually suffer. Not an easy balance.
When Wire Was King is being filmed to capture the thoughts and visions of the folks who changed the telecommunications marketplace through technology, innovation, and regulation to enable the competitive market we see today. We can learn much from these experts. Their experiences can help us shape the future of the telecommunications marketplace and the regulation that enables competition in a way that avoids past mistakes and allows us all – no matter where we are or our economic abilities – to participate in this amazing digital world that has been, and is continuing to be, built.
If you would like to support our film, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to hear from you.
Jennifer A. Manner
Executive Producer and Director