We are in the midst of a global information revolution driven by the convergence and proliferation of information and communication technologies. The telecommunications sector is changing at warp speed, driven by technological innovation that results in new equipment and services, and also by new entrants and alliances between companies with experience in a wide range of information industries from telecommunications to broadcasting to computer hardware and software to publishing. Three major trends are driving these changes:
the rapid introduction of new technologies and services;
the restructuring of the telecommunications sector; and
globalization of economies and of communications.
Together these developments are not only changing the world of telecommunications, but the ways people work, learn, and interact.
The Death of Distance
"The death of distance as a determinant of the cost of communications will probably be the single most important economic force shaping society in the first half of the next century."
The death of distance could have profound implications for both individuals and organizations. The ability to work "anytime, anywhere" allows "road warriors" to work without offices on planes, in hotels, and at client sites, and enables information workers to telecommute from their homes rather than traveling to work. This flexibility can be two-edged for individuals, who can work wherever they choose but may never escape the "virtual workplace." Organizations may reduce their overhead costs and improve their productivity, but they must also learn how to manage their decentralized work force.
One major technological trend is the extension of "information superhighways" in the form of broadband networks; another is the increasing ubiquity of communications using wireless technologies (that will, however, initially provide access to squirts rather than floods of information). Personal communications networks using microcellular technology will allow people in urban areas not only to talk on pocket-sized telephones,