TPRC was the first organization set up to connect scholarly research and communication policy/regulation. CPRsouth, which is just three years old, was modeled on TPRC and EuroCPR. CPRsouth differs from its sister organizations by its explicit focus on capacity building and mentoring, tasks that are looked after by the well established universities and research institutes in North America and Europe.
We were pleased that I and Alison Gillwald (who will be leading the CPRafrica initiative) were invited as guests to the 2009 TPRC conference, facilitated by Prabir Neogi, among others. Alison and I chaired sessions, at the kind invitation of Judith Mariscal who is in the leadership of DIRSI and also on the program committee of TPRC). Jonathan Aronson invited me to serve as a discussant on a plenary panel of senior government officials dealing with international telecom issues.
Peter Cowhey of the US Trade Representative’s office (who during a previous stint in government, along with Jonathan, drove down international termination prices for all), Andrew McLaughlin who is responsible for communication policy issues at the White House and John Giusti from the FCC were the panelists. Unlike the others, who had to speak carefully given their roles in government, I was able to speak my mind, saying things like “your universal service system is abominable.”
When I mentioned that LIRNEasia research had been cited in testimony before Congress on reforming the universal service fund, I actually had a senior official from the FCC come up afterward and ask me for the reference. That, said many, exemplified the new relationship between TPRC and official Washington. In stark contrast to the faith-based policy making of the Bush years, there is active engagement now.