Universal Service To Universal Access
© 1995 - International Research Center
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ADVANCED TELECOMMUNICATION APPLICATIONS
If knowledge is power, then control of the kingdom of information could be at your fingertips within a decade. Flick a switch, and a video window covering a wall in your home will open up your ramp onto an ultra highspeed data highway shipping electronic bits of information at light speed. Booting up your computer, you'll cruise along hair-thin fiber optic grids. At a command, specially designed knowledge robots, your information slaves, will rocket through the supernetworks, sifting databases larger than the Library of Congress to ferret out whatever you request. The network's capability to transmit lifelike video images can electronically transport you on virtual voyages to the far reaches of the data galaxy or bring the world to your living room.
Corporations, research labs, universities and medical centers will interface through a national data highway transmitting visual and audio images thousands of times faster than today's fastest networks. These synergistic links between myriad scientists, scholars, government officials and business people should catalyze an information explosion profoundly transforming the way we live. Such a supernet could allow anyone on the data highway to harness up the power of supercomputers and provide users with calculations for complex applications such as climate modeling, stock market analysis, cosmological research and medical diagnoses and treatment.<
-- Omni Magazine, December 1992
Table 17: Estimates of New Media Technology Markets in $Million
1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 Commercial Online Services (1) 795 1,100 1,600 1,800 1,700 Internet (2) 366 771 1,500 2,400 3,700 CD-ROMs (3) 2,500 2,800 3,100 3,300 3,500 Kiosks (4) 292 496 823 1,400 2,200 Interactive TV (5) 37 261 831 2,000 4,200 Infomercials/Home Shopping (6) 2,800 3,300 3,900 4,600 5,400 Videogames(Hardware/Software) (7) 3,800 3,900 4,000 4,200 4,300 Virtual Reality (6) 116 190 262 374 570 Total New Media Markets 10,706 12,818 16,016 20,074 25,570
(Sources: (1)Forrester Research, (2) Goldman, Sachs & Co., (3) Dataquest, (4) Inteco Corp., (5) Jupiter Communications, (6)Paul Kagan & Assoc., (7) BT Securities)
Customers no longer will take merely what we give them. Customers will become powerful buyers, not just users, driving the direction of the market, not necessarily regulators or product developers. Consumer receptiveness to choice is what drives technology. Technology does not drive consumer receptiveness or choice.
There is no threat to market diversity when thousands of content providers, network access providers, manufacturers, telcos, cable companies and all the other companies are already out in the field lining up for the transition. Do not be obsessed with dividing the pie. It's making it bigger that is better for everyone. We will spend more than $20 billion in the next ten years updating our networks for tele-TV, Internet access, video phones and similar products. Although ISDN is available everywhere in our territory, you have to be pretty rich in some places to afford it. We are hoping to have 100 percent practical ubiquity for ISDN and expect major progress on the deployment.
Ivan Seidenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of NYNEX
Table 18: Consumer Online Services
CompuServe America Online Prodigy World Wide Web Total Subscribers 3.2 Million 3.0 Million 1.2 Million 30 Million (Est.) Average Age 42 (1) 36 35 Household Income $93,000 $75,000 $60,500 $60,000 College Education/
94% 88% 75% NA Male 90% 79% 60% 82% Female 10% 21% 40% 18%
(Source: Marketing Tools, November/December 1995)
(Notes: (1) Age 18-34=37%, 35-44=34%; Microsoft Network is estimated to have 525,000 subscribers)
E-mail has swept the communications and information world during the past decade, providing instantaneous global information and data exchange. People who send e-mail via the Internet - the amorphous network that links computers worldwide via telephone lines - can correspond with individuals 10,000 miles away as easily, quickly, and inexpensively as they can with neighbors next door. They can communicate with one or many people at the same time. And they can distribute information to any other user as soon as they create it.
However, even though this revolution has broadened and changed the ranks of people with access to information, it has not altered one fundamental feature: An information elite still exists, made up of those with access to and knowledge about computers and e-mail. And as e-mail becomes more pervasive, as more commercial and government transactions in the United States take place online, those information haves may leave the have-nots further behind, unless we make concerted efforts today to provide all citizens with access to the technology.
-- RAND report, "Universal Access to E-Mail: Feasibility and Societal Implications," 1995
E-mail has joined facsimile document transmission as an essential business tool and increasingly as a vital personal asset and need. It compresses time and distance in the sending of messages and is transmitted at virtually no incremental cost once the equipment and access are in place. The Electronic Messaging Association estimates that the largest 2,000 American companies employ 5 million individuals, transmitting and receiving 6.1 billion messages annually. By the year 2000, the total number of e-mail users worldwide is expected to exceed 100 million.
If any elements of the array of global information applications are to be added to an expanded range of Universal Service capabilities, it must certainly be that individuals have a electronic in-box to receive e-mail and the means to access it. Where available, Free-Nets and civic networks such as AzTeC readily provide e-mail accounts at no charge and are increasingly placing public access terminals around their regions. In some locales, state and municipal governments along with libraries have taken the lead in providing terminals and kiosks to access public records and selected information resources. In the future, they may also provide more general Internet access, allowing users to "pick up" their e-mail. Next generation consumer devices, such as TV set-top boxes and even telephones, may be e-mail enabled. Additionally, a market for "pay" terminals for e-mail and general Internet access may develop, merged with pay phones or similarly distributed. Already some coffee houses and restaurants in urban centers offer patrons computer workstations or phone jacks for portable computer attachment for these purposes. Additionally, commercial network providers may offer "free" e-mail to those willing to accept advertising messages.
Since the widely-seen demonstrations of AT&T's Picturephone at the 1964 World's Fair, the broad availability of personal videoconferencing has been eagerly awaited. Teleconferencing between conference rooms of business people have long since proved its value in connecting remote sites in collaborative meetings, saving travel costs and time while resolving issues and advancing business objectives. The improvements in PC workstation processing capability, access to more bandwidth over corporate LANs, ISDN and other high-speed public network means, improvement in signal compression technology, and worldwide standardization of videoconferencing protocols should finally drive the market resulting in wide deployment of desktop-to-desktop or personal videoconferencing. More than just voice and visuals, documents and drawing will be viewed and annotated by multiple parties (whiteboarding) while files are transferred as background activity. Projects like ECNet (see Arizona Projects and Activities of Note below) are good examples of the value and benefits that can be obtained with the prevalence of full-featured videoconferencing. Telemedicine applications also require such capabilities along with assured security and reliability.
Consumers have been plugging their camcorders or dedicated video cameras into their own PCs and beginning to videoconference on the Internet and by direct dial interconnection. Market penetration by dedicated desktop instruments should follow. At the most recent Comdex show, Panasonic introduced a mobile handheld PCS videophone in the familiar cellular phone form factor. Signs of finally reaching critical mass for video telephony applications in the next few years look positive, but the Year of the Videophone has seemed "real close" for over 30 years now. By the way, not everyone is so anxious to participate in videoconferencing as this quote illustrates:
In less time than Al Gore can say "national information infrastructure," they tell us, we'll all be hooking video cameras to our computers. If they're right (horrors!), we'll actually have to look at the people we communicate with online. Work-at-homers who pad around all day in flannel PJs and bunny slippers will be on display to clients; hooky-playing employees will have to look the part when they e-mail in sick; and 250-pound, balding guys from Teaneck, NJ, who've been carrying on steamy online affairs under the pseudonym Rip will be exposed for the pudgy-faced impostors they are.
-- Zach Wolff in Netguide, April 1995
In a country that has been moaning about low productivity and searching for new ways to increase it, the single most anti-productive thing we do is to ship millions of workers back and forth across the landscape every morning and evening.In addition to home-based businesses, many traditionally employed workers spend part of their workweek telecommuting or are simply based by their employer at their own residence. This has a growing impact on traffic, reducing demand on transportation infrastructures and improving air quality. Employers may be able to reduce space needs and overhead, access new labor pools and comply with transportation reduction regulations with increased productivity, recruitment and retention. Employees often consider telecommuting as improving their quality of life with reduction in commute time and associated costs, increased flexibility and family interaction, and improved morale. Telecommuting may offer new employment opportunities for the mobility limited and can aid rural development as distance from one's employer becomes less important to workers. This non-traditional model has proved difficult for some enterprises to adopt and adjust to, but has been largely successful for appropriate job functions.Advances in telecommunications services and technologies further enable the development and success of telecommuting. The well-equipped home work area may have a second phone line, personal computer and the ability to fax and copy documents. A recent computer modem protocol, DSVD, allows simultaneous voice and data transmission over a single POTS line, perfect for telemarketing, catalog sales and other applications where one needs to converse while accessing data. Technologies such as ISDN further enable these applications with their faster data rates and ability to more rapidly transfer calls from site to site.
-- Alvin Toffler, Futurist and Author
Nationwide 9.1 million people telecommute one or more days a week, a 20% increase over 1993's total of 7.6 million. There are 4.2 million additional telecommuters who are self-employed business owners with their primary place of business located outside the home for a total of approximately 13.4 million telecommuters working an average of 7 days per month at home. (Source: Find/SVP, 1994 American Information User Survey). In Maricopa County, almost 93,000 employees (8%) telecommute at least one day per week saving an estimated 600,000 miles of travel and 12 tons of pollution each weekday. (Source: WestGroup Market Research, 1994 Report on Maricopa County Telecommuting)
Lost in Cyberspace - Navigation Tools:
Vannevar Bush, science advisor to President Franklin Roosevelt, published an article in 1945 envisioning hypertext and multimedia. Only recently have those concepts been sufficiently actualized in broadly used products and environments. The Internet and its military/research precedents plodded along for decades involving a growing, yet still minuscule community in its text-based world of e-mail, file transfer and data retrieval. Only with the onset of the World Wide Web several years ago, with its graphic views and point-and-click navigation did Internet use explode to include an estimated 30 million U.S. users, adding to the many millions subscribing to consumer online services.
Even with its vastly improved graphical access, the Internet can remain a foreboding place. As a network of networks, the information content is maintained and delivered from tens of thousands of sites across the planet. Only now are comprehensive hierarchical directories and well-designed search engines reaching common and practical usage, but they often still require inordinate amounts of time and effort to sort through potentially relevant material to find what is needed and reliable. In the government and public policy arenas, what information there is available is often of high quality and utility. But in many other areas of interest, the signal-to-noise ratio (useful and reliable content as compared to useless or misleading) remains much too low. Traditional and new entrepreneurial publishers are establishing a solid presence and electronic journals often deliver timely, valuable information, but there's just too much "stuff" out there.
Software applications and agents will supersede browsers for much of our personal information gathering needs. Customized newspapers, the "Daily Me," will be delivered to your in box or "electronic doorstep." Intelligent agents or Knowbots will have a profile of our needs, preferences, budgets and resources and take "assignments" to visit a vast array of information resources, collecting and sifting data to prepare and present targeted results to us. Such capabilities (i.e., Telescript from General Magic) are being integrated to operating systems and applications for near-term viability.
The Librarian daemon looks like a pleasant, fiftyish, silver haired, bearded man with bright blue eyes, wearing a V-neck sweater over a coarsely woven, tweedy-looking wool tie. The tie is loosened, the sleeves pushed up. Even though he's just a piece of software, he has reason to be cheerful; he can move through nearly infinite stacks of information in the Library with the agility of a spider dancing across a vast web of cross-references. "Yes, sir," the Librarian says. He is eager without being obnoxiously chipper; he clasps his hands behind his back, rocks forward slightly on the balls of his feet, raises his eyebrows expectantly over his half-glasses
-- Neil Stephenson in Snow Crash, 1992
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