Tomorrow, Thursday December 19, marks the 100th Anniversary of the “Kingsbury Commitment.” As just about no one outside the wonky world of telecom policy knows, the “Kingsbury Commitment” was the resolution of the anti-trust case between American Telephone & Telegraph (as AT&T was known then) and the Department of Justice wherein AT&T agreed to provide phone service to everyone (either directly or by providing interconnection to other local monopoly providers) and interconnect with its rivals in exchange for natural monopoly in most of its markets. You can see the text here.
Put another way, tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of when we mandated interconnection and universal phone service as the fundamental values/defining responsibilities of the phone system. For those following my endless blather about the “transformation of the phone system” the Kingsbury Commitment provides the cornerstone of those 5 Fundamental Values I’m always going on about (see exciting white paper here).
See details below . . .
Get Ready To Rumble!
(If, by ‘rumble,’ you mean a polite but spirited debate on how telecom policy should respond to the changes in technology in the last 100 years and whether government policy is still required to maintain the concept of universal access.)
So how shall we celebrate this nerdiest of anniversaries? In good D.C. fashion we are celebrating with a TELECOM POLICY AGNI KI. My opposite numbers at Tech Freedom are holding an event in D.C. from 11:30-2 p.m. “A New Kingsbury Commitment: Universal Service Through Competition?”
Do not be deceived by this staid title! I promise a virtual Telecom Thunderdome, but includes a free lunch for those who pre-register and a nice opening keynote by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. I shall prove my mastery telecom policy and the superiority of all inclusive values by taking on four Libertarian Policy Wonks ranging from centrist Democrat to those who think Rand Paul isn’t radical enough. Yes, it will be livestreamed via this link here. But if you live stream you will not only have to make your own lunch, you will also miss the dramatic moment when I decapitate my foes and become the Immortal Telecom Wonk (in the end, there can be only one . . .)
And The Release Of The New Home Game!
Feel like you ought to have some say in policy decisions that impact such fundamental things like how you communicate with your fellow human beings every day, but don’t live in D.C. and don’t have millions to spend on lobbyists? Fear not, Public Knowledge and the Center for Media Justice have now released a tool kit so you can play at home!
“What’s the Hang Up?” includes everything you need to actually start participating in the process at the local, state and federal level. The package includes
-A plain language explanation of the issues and what’s at stake;
-A glossary of the language so you can spot bullsh** and sound all wonky to impress your friends and legislators;
-Helpful suggestions for how to become more politically active; and,
-Some useful starter tools such as a sample “meeting request” for your state legislator.
It’s fun, and it’s free! (Although if you feel like making a donation to support my employer Public Knowledge for this and other work, please do so.)
So download the What’s The Hang Up? Toolkit and start playing today! You and your friends will be amazed at how much you enjoy being an actual participant in a free society rather than passively accepting whatever is sold to you because you feel powerless disconnected and alone.
Stay tuned . . . .