Report: Timeline of Communication Systems

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  2000 A.D.

Convergence of telephony, audiovisual technologies and computing

Digital technologies are used to combine previously separated communication and media systems such as telephony, audiovisual technologies and computing to new services and technologies, thus forming extensions of existing communication systems and resulting in fundamentally new communication systems. This is what is meant by today's new buzzwords "multimedia" and "convergence".

Classical dichotomies as the one of computing and telephony and traditional categorizations no longer apply, because these new services no longer fit traditional categories.

Convergence and Regulatory Institutions

Digital technology permits the integration of telecommunications with computing and audiovisual technologies. New services that extend existing communication systems emerge. The convergence of communication and media systems corresponds to a convergence of corporations. Recently, America Online, the world's largest online service provider, merged with Time Warner, the world's largest media corporation. For such corporations the classical approach to regulation - separate institutions regulate separate markets - is no longer appropriate, because the institutions' activities necessarily overlap. The current challenges posed to these institutions are not solely due to the convergence of communication and media systems made possible by digital technologies; they are also due to the liberalization and internationalization of the electronic communications sector. For regulation to be successful, new categorizations and supranational agreements are needed.
For further information on this issue see Natascha Just and Michael Latzer, The European Policy Response to Convergence with Special Consideration of Competition Policy and Market Power Control, http://www.soe.oeaw.ac.at/workpap.htm or http://www.soe.oeaw.ac.at/WP01JustLatzer.doc.

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