by Carla Lane, Ed.D and Patrick Portway
A flood of new communications devices and
services are on the way; legislation and rulings has opened up
the way for telephone and cable companies to compete. The introduction
of legislation for the National Information Infrastructure (NII)
and the Communications Act of 1994 had been introduced but not
passed as this edition went to press. Most of the squabbles involve
splitting the limited number of available radio frequencies among
new and existing communication services. Advances include videos
on demand, delivered electronically to the home over phone and
cable lines; interactive newspapers and TV shows, which allow
users to custom-tailor the information and entertainment they
The Merger of Computers and Video
The most significant trend is still the
merger of the computer and video into multimedia desktop terminals.
The technologies that are converging are computing, television,
printing and telecommunications. Bringing them together results
in the whole having greater impact than each individual part
and is one of the industryí most significant developments.
The convergence of digital technologies and their use will impact
the future of teleconferencing, distance learning, business,
and entertainment. By joining television and computers, the best
aspects of each technology are combined. The result is a powerful
communications and information system that joins TVís
ability to introduce and highlight a subject with the computerís
ability to provide in-depth information tailored to immediate
needs. The computer changes existing media by helping one find,
store, search, and re-use many kinds of information. The movement
is still toward digital high definition television.
Age of Communications
Based on our review of the industry, we
believe that yet another shift has occurred. It was largely accepted
that the Information Age began in 1985 and has probably ended
in 1994. We have now moved into the Age of Communication. This
age is strongly defined by telecommunications used for gathering
and disseminating information. The publicís discovery
of the Internet was prompted by discussions of the National Information
Infrastructure and flamed by mergers. The Communications Age
is characterized by the general acceptance of the public that
want to be able to use telecommunications interactively as a
personal tool. In the Information Age, the public was content
to receive one-way communication. This represents another paradigm
shift. Now employees are empowered with access to two-way communications,
access to information and by companies that have downsized and
are enlightened about employee empowerment. In education, the
paradigm shift has been enabled through instructional methods
that empower the student such as facilitation, two-way communication
networks, and access to information through electronic networks.
Because of funding schools are slightly behind business, but
Goals 2000 funding will decrease the gap. The Communications
Act of 1994 should include a universal access clause for education
that was left out of the 1934 Act.
Asynchronous Transfer Mode - ATM
Current packet switched LAN technology
is not friendly to video transmissions. The ATM protocol would
handle video data and voice in the LAN/WAN environment as well
as internationally. ATM is widely supported as the direction
of the future.
Interactive Television - Entertainment
This is a system that connects with the
cable television system. Computer programmers set up programming
to work with game shows, etc. People with the system can play
along with the game. One version of the system works on a small
radio transmitter for which the FCC has allocated spectrum. Other
versions operate over the cable or telephone lines.
Video on Demand
Digital video stored on servers can play
out movies or other programming whenever the consumer demands
and is accessed over cable or phone lines. This service in competition
with videotape rental stores is expected to be a $30 billion
business in the late 90s.
Internet/Interactive Television - Education
CU-See Me is a software program that provides
two-way interactive video and audio over the Internet. School
children are already using it to share data. Viewpoint, BBN and
others have introduced software that works over the Internet.
Cellular Computer Networks
Major computer marketers, regional Bell
operating companies and other technology vendors have targeted
wireless, mobile data communications as the next hot growth area.
The market potential for cellular-based data services is huge;
the field is expected to attract 2.6 million customers nationwide
by 1997. The wireless data market will hit $175 million in 1995,
up from $18 million in 1992. Five factors will drive the growth;
increased use of laptop computers; availability of small notebook
and palm-top machines; the perfection of personal digital assistants
for the mass market; reduced costs of transmission.
In 1980 a Cray supercomputer had eight
MB of random access memory (RAM) and operated at a speed of 80
Mhz. Personal computers operate faster than that and with more
RAM. Chips have enabled this.
Chip development will provide faster and
lower cost videoconferencing on the computer screen. Intel plans
to offer two-way videoconferencing on computers free - except
for the cost of a small camera ($100) by the year 2000. The capability
will become a standard feature of all computers.
The raw power of silicon technology has
been doubling every 18 months. Gordon Moore, who co-founded Intel,
introduced this "law." Based on Moore's Law, by 2004,
silicon chips will be produced that contain over a billion transistors
- the capacity to switch 42 central office telephone switches.
Short movies that play in a screen on your
computer have become another way for users to create their own
media. Using digitized video footage, morphing programs, animation,
or video stills, movies can be easily made. They can be the new
family scrapbook or the way to deliver product information without
mailing a video tape. The digital fusion in the movie industry
is at a peak. When John Candy died in the middle of shooting
a movie, his film image was digitized and inserted into the remaining
Copyright and Multimedia
Intellectual property rights in the multimedia
environment are going to be a major problem. To create the perception
of choice in multimedia requires much more material than linear
media. Some industry professionals feel that acquiring intellectual
property is so costly and problematic that multimedia developers
should produce everything themselves. This is an infant industry
with an enormous hunger for content but no easy way to pay the
bills. Multimedia developers hope that licensing will give them
the ability to obtain existing intellectual property and spare
themselves the cost, time and effort of creating the content.
They hope to acquire only the rights they need at minimum cost,
but are not sure what rights they need to acquire ó and
content owners are not sure what rights they are willing to license.
Technologies are changing, market practices
are still evolving, the size of the market is unknown and the
relationship of multimedia markets to traditional markets is
undefined or ambiguous. Today multimedia developers primarily
use stand alone storage-based publishing devices. As wideband
transmission becomes easily available, publishing via networks
will be commonplace. This is the emerging model in higher education.
It discourages new users and the experimentation and exploration
that is needed to stimulate and build demand. Nobody likes to
hear a meter ticking. There is resistance to metered information
as it is hard to budget; fixed costs are preferable.
Desktop video will transform the video
post production industry and computers are already having a huge
impact on producers of video programming. The recession forced
people to take a look at alternatives for producing video. The
traditional video production studio with several rooms and $2
million in equipment may be history soon. Breakthroughs in digital
storage technology and better video compression techniques will
continually advance desktop video. Dial-up digital networks are
becoming the rule. The need for total solutions has had an effect
on the technology being developed. Document and information sharing
solutions like document cameras, user cameras, annotation tablets
and computer interfaces are demanded by customers. The customers
are becoming increasingly more sophisticated in their use of
video and are demanding that vendors develop complete solutions
that encompass more than just audio and video. It must be high
quality and make working across distances easier. The desktop
is destined to become the major video battleground of the late
1990s? The race will be won by those who can provide the same
high level of functionality and quality on workstations and videophones
as exists on group conferencing systems. The systems must add
value to the installed base and not create incompatible islands
of technology. The winners will focus on building value throughout
a family of products while teaming with partners that can focus
appropriate video solutions into the right market channels. If
thereís a lesson to be learned from the past seven years
in the industry, it is that networks will follow the desktop
applications. Increased use of multimedia information and desktop
videoconferencing will drive the demand.
Direct Broadcast Video by Satellite
Direct broadcast satellite companies now
offer entertainment directly to the home. Low subscription and
equipment fees define the success of this delivery method. They
have the jump on the cable companies and telcos which are just
coming out of test phases for video on demand. Using DBS for
education delivery may be the next option if DBS is required
to provide public access.
DBS satellites can broadcast to small areas
of 200 square miles. Proramming can be made to be addressable
so that specified homes in the US can receive programming based
on the signal coder's address
The use of telecommunications technologies
for distance education will continue to increase as educators
deal with increasing numbers of students. It will become even
more apparent that the ability to share resources through technology
is a viable alternative to building more buildings. The need
to retrain 50 million American workers and military personnel
who have been mustered out will be a driving factor in the continued
adoption of distance education. Distance education will be used
to bring credit and continuing education programming into the
school, workplace, and home. The impact of the new technologies
will be felt in all areas of education and will take distance
education to a different kind of level with the new desktop video
conferencing systems lead students into more involvement with
one another. It will help students develop a better sense of
the world. As the new technologies stabilize, the expense will
drop and make access to others as well as learning resources
very cost effective. Computer and audioconferencing for all educational
organizations will become an important part of distance education.
Instructional designers will need to learn how to weave the use
of the technologies into their methods.
Electronic Mail - (E-Mail)
If youíve viewed e-mail as a convenient
way to communicate, get ready for an explosion of e-mail into
a strategic business resource the way voice mail did a few years
ago. Mail-enabled applications, which promise to revolutionize
a range of business procedures, will help organizations drastically
reduce paperwork and errors and increase efficiency, on top of
the savings in reduced phone and mail charges. E-mail has already
evolved into a store-and-forward technology that handles large
data files and documents, and can be extended beyond the enterprise
to suppliers, customers, and trading partners worldwide. Just
as you wouldnít consider installing a phone system without
connecting everyone, you should apply the same thinking to e-mail.
Commercial providers of access to the Internet will continue
to flourish. As more people become connected to the Internet,
faxing will fade away as we increase our use of computer faxing
or attach formatted documents to e-mail messages over commercial
services. More private services will arrive to handle private
electronic meetings through proprietary software. As large organizations
such as associations or trade groups find that they need ways
to connect their members. The medical profession may find these
services appropriate to coordinate patient treatment. Small companies
which do not want to invest in servers to connect widely dispersed
employees may also find the solution appropriate. These are just
a few of the ways that private computer conferencing networks
will provide services. FCC In July, 1992, the FCC took sweeping
steps toward changing the ways Americans use their televisions
and telephones. The regulation changes also took an important
step to bring competition to the cable industry. Video dial tone
will provide significant competition to cable television companies
which operate as monopolies in most communities. The rulings
allow local phone companies to pursue some combination of two
options: The phone company could act as a carrier for cable companies
and information service providers, bringing their signals into
the home on its high-capacity fiber optic cable. Or it could
offer movies and television programs on its own, competing directly
with cable companies. The FCC is moving closer to giving broadcast
television stations two channels; one for regular transmissions;
one for high-definition broadcasts. It has also sold bandwidth
for pocket telephones and hand-held, wireless computers.
Fiber and Broadband to the Curb
Fiber optic cable is being installed by
many phone companies because it has the ability to carry voice,
data and video. The installation has been lagging, but with the
FCC regulation change the telcos now have a major incentive to
speed up the process and begin delivering programming. Fiber
from the curb into the home will be the last obstacle for this
transition. Fiber will pass by the home. It will be up to the
homeowner to decide whether to pay for the final few feet of
High Definition Television (HDTV)
The U.S. HDTV standard will be digital.
Zenithís digital approach has been chosen by the FCC as
the model for development of a U.S. standard.
Yes - information overload continues to
increase - doubling every two years according to some estimates.
The time lag between the discovery and the application of the
information is shrinking. It used to take hundreds of years to
move from a product that was merely a curiosity, to the acceptance
of it as a becoming a commercial product.
Everyone has to learn how to be a reference
librarian, how to assimilate the found information, how to combine
it so that it makes something new and innovative.
Internet and the World Wide Web
The browser that enabled the creation of
the World Wide Web is the killer application of the century.
It has enabled small children and grandparents to connect, allowed
teachers to find new resources that put out-of-date textbooks
to shame, and has enabled a whole new meaning for distance education.
The Web has moved the distance education classroom to cyberspace.
Business, schools, universities, homes, libraries and museums
are connected to the Net. With each new addition, Bob Metcalfe's
Law is proved - the power of a network increases by the square
of the number of users. Moore's Law and Metcalfe's Law are the
foundations of the communications revolution that has swept over
The Internet doubles in size every year,
but the Web is doubling in size every ninety days. Electronic
mail is moving into the trillions.
New interactive devices will allow viewers
to play along with their favorite game show, sporting event,
or murder mystery. Interactive Network of Mountain View, CA,
has been testing a product in Northern California. The heart
of the system is a $200 portable control unit.
While TV shows are being broadcast, Interactive
Network employees sit at computers and program the information
that is sent to the control unit. For example, during ìJeopardy,î
when an answer is shown on the TV screen, the Interactive Network
technicians send four possible questions over an FM radio signal
that is picked up by the handset. The questions are shown on
a small liquid crystal display screen and one answer is chosen
by pressing a button on the control unit. When the correct answer
is given on the show, the Interactive Network technicians immediately
send the information over the radio waves to the handset. If
you are correct the handset adds points to your score. When the
games are finished, the control unit adds up the points. By connecting
the telephone cord that comes with the unit to the phone outlet
and calling the score to Interactive Network, a player can compete
with other interactive players for prizes.
The company has been loaning out the units
at Giants and Athletics games in an effort to get people familiar
with the technology. To play, you first predict the outcome of
the batterís trip to the plate. If you guess an out, you
then predict how that will happen. If you guess a fly out but
the batter grounds, youíll receive points for being half-right.
Throughout the game the control unit displays the latest scores
from other baseball games, much like the scoreboard at the ballpark.
You can also get information on a particular playerís
batting statistics ó number of hits, strikeouts, etc.
ó and team statistics at any time during the game.
Here's how it works. Interactive Network
producers watch the telecast and enter game calls and statistical
information. From the central computer of the network, game control
data is shipped to FM stations and Interactive Network game data
is simulcast along with the television broadcast. The control
unit uses a telescoping antenna to receive the FM radio signal
that carries the information (it may be necessary to use an FM
booster). At the conclusion of an event, subscribers connect
the handset to their phone cord for a 20-second call which is
transmitted over a telephone digital switching network. All participantsí
scores are collected, results and standings tabulated, and then
broadcast back to each subscriber in four minutes. The control
unit has a long-lasting rechargeable battery.
A desktop computer gives us access to a
global markeplace, international information, and 24-hour a day
service. Anything, anywhere, anyplace is a reality. Doing business
on the Web gives an individual, a small firm, or a corporate
giant the same world-wide presence.
Are we disenfranchising the middleman.
If we are, in the case of education, what does that mean? Will
we truly see a statewide or national delivery of education such
as they provided by the existing federal projects? Stay tuned.
Knowbots (Short for knowledge robots)
As more information becomes available knowbots
will search for new information according to guidelines set by
the user. The knowbot will automatically and regularly search.
This software program will be the equivalent of having a reference
librarian at your fingertips which can quickly sort through the
vast amounts of electronic data. Knowbots will be able to assemble
the equivalent of a personal daily newspapers, magazines, or
information on any topic. Searches will be done on public databases
as well as private or premium pay services to which the user
subscribes. At its extreme, the knowbot or intelligent agent,
becomes an intelligent partner in mediating human communication.
LANs and WANs
The LAN industry will continue to shape
and mature in the late 90s as users continue to grapple with
interoperability, service and support. One LAN expert says that
the LAN industry is experiencing massive market upheaval. The
new corporate networks will feature heterogeneous multivendor,
multiprotocol environments. They will be mainly PC LAN based
as users continue to downsize or rightsize their computer operations
from host terminals connections to LANs. Client/server applications
will become a reality as users demand more comprehensive, robust
applications. Instead of mainframes, networks will be the center
of focus. Users will have a choice of an expanding array of less
costly products (because of stiffer competition), and continue
to grapple with interoperability of new and old products. At
the same time, theyíve lost the security of knowing where
they will be in five years.
Low Earth Orbiting Satellite (LEO)
Satellites orbiting a few hundred miles
up will form a moving set of communications cells passing overhead.
There is negligible delay and a small surface can be used as
an antenna (i.e. the lid of a laptop computer). Some systems,
called limited LEOs, will cover only populated areas. Others,
like Motorolaís, Iridium, will cover the entire earth
with phone and data services. This is called a full LEO.
The promise of multimedia is to move more
information more easily by doing it electronically and to provide
more resources to everyone. It is no longer a technology in search
of an application. The enabling technologies are not all in place,
but it is becoming clear that the true multimedia platform is
more likely to be something different. It will house a microprocessor,
but we probably wonít think of it so much as a computer
as we will think of it as a telecommunications instrument. To
date, it has been suggested that multimedia will become a market
only when the communications providers have a national fiber
optic infrastructure capable of handling the massive bandwidth
that each of us will need. On the other hand, we may not have
to wait years for multimedia to become a telecommunications reality.
Multimedia will become a preferred communications vehicle for
entertainment, advertising, and education. Animation, video,
and sound will proliferate throughout new interactive applications.
Internet and the National Information
The Internet is an existing worldwide system
for linking smaller computer networks together including governmental
institutions, military branches, educational institutions, and
commercial companies. There is no surcharge to send or receive
messages through Internet. Only ASCII messages up to 50,000 characters
can be sent through this system. Thousands of users are being
added to the Internet on a weekly basis as the commercial services
such as CompuServe, America Online, e-World, and Delphi open
connections to Internet. Using the Internet can be daunting for
new users. However new White and Yellow Pages for the Internet
will make finding groups and information easier. Still, many
users prefer seeing the Internet through an easy to use graphic
interface. More direct graphic interfaces are being developed
such as Mosaic and GINA which telnet and ftp at the click of
a button. Audio interfaces are also coming.
MBONE, the Multicast Backbone of the Internet,
can carry live audio and video to sites around the world. The
idea is to construct a semi-permanent IP multicast testbed to
carry the IETF transmissions and support continued experimentation
between meetings. The MBONE is a virtual network. It is layered
on top of portions of the physical Internet to support routing
of IP multicast packets since that function has not yet been
integrated into many production routers. The network is composed
of islands that can directly support IP multicast, such as multicast
LANs like Ethernet, linked by virtual point-to-point links called
ìtunnelsî. The tunnel endpoints are typically workstation-class
machines having operating system support for IP multicast and
running the ìmroutedî multicast routing daemon.
The NII will be a direct descendent of the MBONE.
PDAs - Personal Digital Assistant The first
round of personal digital assistants (PDAs) was not successful
because the technology was not ready; but the idea is still appealing.
Apple Computer's Newton was the most notable of the releases
that weigh about a pound and use a special unattached pen for
data entry. While Newton seemed to be a handy gadget, it could
not get the hang of recognizing its owneros handwriting and failed
primarily because of that flaw. New and improved software was
released, but the market was too disappointed to notice.
The winner for the second round is US Robotics
Palm Pilot. Instead of learning your writing,you learn how to
write so that it recognizes the characters. It synchronizes with
your computer, and even has a modem which you can purchase separately.
The importance of small portable technologies
is that they facilitate anywhere/anytime communication and learning.
For example, the Buddy System in Indiana gives students computers
with modems to use at home. Researchers found that about 30 days
of instruction were added to the school year because of student
access to information. The cost of the project is about as expensive
as it would be to keep the schools open an extra day. The 30:1
payoff is a result of student enthusiasm for learning with the
use of a powerful tool in their home.
The same enthusiasm is in place in classrooms
where technology is used. The technology of tomorrow will be
seen in the plug and play classroom.
For example - the net computer (NC) which
will have enough brains to log onto the Web, search and save
the results until they can be transferred to a more powerful
computer or hard drive. The net computer won't replace the personal
computer as they both have a function to serve and thus a place
in the world.
Photonics may be the final answer to fiber
optic. If youíre installing fiber, make sure your planned
installation can include photonics. Photonics are enabled by
gallium arsenide integrated circuits for optical interconnections
within and between computer and communication equipment.
Present fiber optic computer and communication
links are limited by discrete component electronics. In development
is a projected 32-channel parallel monolithic IC connector which
could vastly increase performance and drive down costs to open
up long-sought new fiber optic markets which can replace current
copper-wired connections. The cost of fiber optic cable is not
drastically more expensive than copper or coaxial cable. The
cost of fiber is driven up by the cost of the connectors.
There will be a continued enhancement of
industry standards as technology progress, applications evolve
and customerís grow more sophisticated. Standards are
due soon for high resolution graphics, as well as encryption
and multipoint video. Storing the video signal is a problem as
it takes a 300 megabyte hard disk to store just 10 seconds of
digital video. Compression is the answer to storage problems.
Future digital-video products will offer compression ratios of
50: 1 to 500:1. JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Group) is an
industry standard for still-image compression that is moving
into full-motion video. MPEG (Moving Pictures Experts Group)
has a three-part compression standard for professional and consumer
application ó digital video, digital audio and systems
compression. MPEG compression compresses similar frames of video,
track elements which change between frames and discards the redundancies.
This allows full-motion video to be sent at CD-ROM data rates
ó around 160K per second.
A multimedia personal computer standard
describes a PC that can run Microsoftís Windows efficiently
because the system software beneath multimedia would be ìWindows
with Multimedia Extension. (The specification calls for added
audio and CD-ROM hardware).
Teamware or Groupware
The most successful organizations use employee
teams to solve problems with minimal management intervention.
The groups are organized on an as-needed basis and will draw
on the expertise of many employees. The critical factor in the
success of the teamís competitive solution may be the
speed with which they are able to communicate and make themselves
understood. Electronic mail and desktop videoconferencing promises
is part of the team solution, as it gives a company a competitive
edge. Teamware is works on decentralized LANs, and ties together
loosely organized groups of people to allow them to work together
more effectively. With it the group can easily share information,
track their work and collaborate on team projects by sharing
documents, audio and video. Everyone has to use it, so teamware
must be intuitive and easy to use. Teamware is an educational
solution for distance learning through computer conferencing
but it hasnít reached the adoption stage yet. Few companies
are using the team-approach effectively. Those who seize this
opportunity early will have the competitive edge.
The move toward telecommuting will continue
to increase as large metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles realize
the benefits of telecommuting for the environment and businesses
realize the benefits of productivity from telecommuters. People
can telecommute in three ways: by working from their homes, by
driving to a satellite officer operated by their employer or
by driving to a neighborhood telecommuting work center that provides
facilities for a variety of employers. Telecommuting offices,
centers where employees can go that are close to their homes
will continue to increase. Employees with the ability to telecommute
will spend more time conducting business this way. The use of
cellular and portable equipment such as telephones and computers
will continue to drive this trend.
In California, telecommuting has made major
strides in the state's government and education centers in the
past several years. It has been spurred largely by air quality
regulations requiring employers to cut down on traffic congestion
and lengthy commutes or face fines of as high as $25,000 per
day. The energy saved by six or seven telecommuters in one year
is equivalent to the average U.S. annual household energy consumption.
If only five percent of commuters in Los Angeles County telecommuted
only one day each week, they would save 9.5 million gallons of
gasoline in a year.
Telecommuting in the San Francisco Bay
Area could reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the major cause
of global warming, by 100 million pounds per year. It would take
about 10 million new trees to absorb that much carbon dioxide
from the atmosphere. The neighborhood Telecommuting WorkCenter
of Riverside County, CA, reports that the average commute for
its telecommuters is 10 minutes, compared with two or three hours.
Each company provides equipment for its employees and pays for
their long distance, modem, Fax and photocopy charges. Riverside
provides private offices, cubicles, a conference room, Pacific
Bell Centrex telephone and voice mail, secure data transmission
service, free parking, a lunch room, and even an exercise room.
The Riverside WorkCenter, November 1991, is a three-way partnership
among the State of California, the Riverside County Transportation
Commissions and private businesses. TRW, Southern California
Edison, Pacific Bell and CalComp supply the 40 telecommuters.
The center is the largest of its kind in the country. The California
Community Colleges, the largest educational system in the world
with over 150 sites, has a pilot Telework Project funded by CalTrans.
Telecommuting brings a host of quantifiable
benefits to employer and employee alike. For the employer, it
can reduce the cost of office space (30 percent for the State
of California), increase productivity (from 3 to 60 percent or
more when clear objectives are set), decrease turnover and absenteeism
and boost hiring and retention. By removing geographic boundaries,
employers can improve recruiting efforts and retain employees
with scarce expertise or talents. They can also better utilize
specialized labor pools such as people with disabilities who
find it easier to navigate their own homes several days a week
than to go into the office. Women on maternity leave report being
able to return to work faster when they can work from their homes.
It's also a boon for single parents where telecommuting can complement
day care or provide a means to continue working when children
are ill. Freed from commuting schedules, telecommuters can work
in synch with their own body clocks, which produces higher energy
levels. Fewer distractions is often the principal reason for
higher productivity, but the emotional benefits of reduced stress,
increased family interaction and decreased commuting time and
cost are also major benefits to telecommuting.
It has been estimated that telecommuting
two days per week from home saves employers $8,000 per employee
per year. (This assumes an annual salary of $20,000, a productivity
increase of 20 percent, reduced personnel costs of 10 percent,
parking at $500 per year reduced by 40 percent, and use of central
office facilities of 150 square feet at $30 per square foot rent
per year reduced by 40 percent.) Telecommuters who do come to
the main office will find that their office space is now assigned
in much the same way that a hotel assigns a room to a guest.
With all their materials available by computer, the desk site
doesnít matter. Managers also become better at managing
and supervising because they start thinking in terms of deliverables.
With telecommuting, the manager emphasizes the work product rather
than the work process. Telecommuting has the best chance of working
if managers and telecommuting employees identify measurable work
objectives to be achieved. This also promotes strong communications
and planning skills. The best choices for telecommuters are self
directed employees who work well alone.
In general, the latest technologies make
it more efficient to shift voice communications from wires to
radio signals, cellular phones and more complex television images
to wires from the broadcast spectrum.
Televisions will be much smarter and will
be built with microchips able to store a billion bytes of data
-- 250 times the capacity of most personal computers --so that
they can hold and sort entire two-hour movies delivered in a
few seconds over high-capacity fiber-optic wires.
The trend will continue toward the miniaturization
of videoconferencing to computers. There will be a continued
move towards integrating multi-media with video conferencing.
The second generation of desktop videoconferencing products is
making its way into the market. There will be a continued drop
in video conferencing system prices due to lowered equipment
costs and stabilized network rates.
from "A Technical
Guide to Teleconferencing and Distance Learning," 3rd edition