The growth of the Internet, computer telephony, electronic banking, interactive media services, mobile communications and related technologies, has paved the way for a new global network to emerge in the twenty-first century, subsuming the Internet and telephone networks.
Where in the twentieth century we had separate devices and transmission technologies for each communications function, nearly all data is now transmitted digitally, and there is increasing convergence between the devices used to connect to digital networks.
The voice and data communications industry is working to forge new technologies and standards to support mobile E-Commerce. These efforts are focusing on two key areas:
accessing information and services via the Internet from a phone other handheld device;
providing the necessary bandwidth to handle content in the fastest and most reliable way.
Product Code Technology
Some supermarkets, such as UK retailer Safeway, have already introduced do-it-yourself scanning to take the pressure off tills. Shoppers can:
- pick up a hand-held scanner on entering the supermarket;
- use it to monitor how much they are spending as they go along;
- print out an invoice when they have finished.
The global network’s content may increasingly be provided by media giants, providing entertainment, news and sports and there is likely to be a great deal of crossover with the retail sector, as consumers shopping for entertainment are persuaded to shop for other things.
One of the big developments of the last few years has been the introduction of digital television, which in addition to providing a digital image has facilitated a range of interactive services, including:
- the provision of online programme information;
- interactive games on the television;
- the provision of pay-per-view programmes, such as big sporting events or recent films;
- the provision of online shopping services;
- an email service via your television.
All these services can be accessed using your remote control, although a special wireless ‘qwerty’ keyboard has also been developed to make use of the services easier.
Electronic Cash and Banking
Online banks are already appearing on the Internet, and established banks are having to adapt for the future. It has been possible for a while to manage your banking from software on a PC, but these types of facility are becoming enhanced and integrated with the emergent mobile technologies.
Voice Recognition and Disabled Access
Voice control is likely to become a viable alternative for Internet access as well as the control of domestic appliances.
By merging computer and telephone technologies, Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) can change the way we do business. Call centres and automated call reception are just the tip of the iceberg – CTI technology can be merged with Internet and web systems to create a customer interface.
Voice over IP (VoIP)
Voice over IP (VoIP) is voice delivered using the Internet protocol. This means sending voice information in digital form in discrete packets rather than in the traditional circuit-committed protocols of the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN). VoIP and Internet telephony avoid ordinary telephone charges.