If you think you are confused about the ever-increasing array of
telecommunications services and products, you have nothing on those
who are in the thick of the pitched competitive battle for your
Not only are there new gizmos and programs every day, but the
means of delivery are changing with lightning speed, one form
into another as the industry continually repositions itself -- with
equipment that formerly provided a single service suddenly being
required to deliver several.
This message of "convergence" was delivered to the House Science
and Technology Committee Tuesday by telecommunications consultant
Jeff Treeman, former president of Tulsa-based United Video.
"Convergence is a fact," he said. "It's going to happen."
Treeman said convergence is the watchword throughout the industry
-- of applications, devices, delivery mechanisms, networks and all
other phases of telecommunications. And the stakes are high, he
said, with 20 percent of U.S. revenues coming from entertainment,
publication, telephones, electronics, broadcast television, wireless
communications, cable TV, radio and computers -- all of which are
affected one way or another by the amorphous state of the industry
and how government chooses to regulate it.
"It's not a choice to play," Treeman said. "It's how the state
chooses to play."
And, as if it is not enough to try to handle all of the
information made available by this boom, government must decide how
to address a whole sea of issues raised by electronic commerce.
"Boundaries disappear," said Treeman.
Today, he said, it is possible to buy insurance electronically in
the Bahamas or to bank in Switzerland.
With the proper technology, he told the panel, it is possible to
leverage Oklahoma's position in the telecommunications marketplace.
He said the state can help both existing and new businesses deal
the problems of new technology.
Treeman cautioned the panel to look closely at changes in the
industry, to be able to distinguish between real growth and what he
termed "virtual" growth. By virtual growth, he said, he was
referring to what is actually just movement from one medium to
another -- Internet users taking time away from television, direct
broadcast system television taking time away from cable TV, faxing
taking business away from the U.S. Postal Service and FedEx, and the
like. As an example of real growth, Treeman cited the needed
addition of telephone lines for computers, fax machines and other
Other issues Treeman said drive the industry are the conversion of
certain applications from analog to digital, because computers are
better able to handle the latter; increased consumer expectations
the public's demand for increased speed in communications.
As to government's role, he said, it must be remembered that
convergence is a process.
"There's no crystal ball in all this," Treeman said, adding that
change will continue to occur. …