|Latin America I 2000
|PTC2000 – An Extraordinary Event!
|Pacific Telecommunications Council
Broadband, other Internet issues and wireless were among the hottest topics at the 22nd annual Pacific Telecommu-nications Conference. Satellite communications, undersea and terrestrial fibre and traditional telecommunication technologies shared the spotlight at PTC2000, held in Honolulu from 30 January to 2 February at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in the heart of Waikiki.
Internet, especially among new members. Nowhere was this more evident than in the opening Plenary Session of PTC2000 on 31 January. Yoshio Utsumi, Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), presented impressive statistics on the rapid growth of data communications in the region and the world. The accompanying panel, moderated by former ITU Secretary-General Pekka Tarjanne (now Vice Chairman of Project Oxygen, Bermuda), included Betty Alewine (President and CEO, COMSAT Corporation, USA), Kouji Ohboshi (Chairman of the Board, NTT DoCoMo, Japan), Jack Scanlon (Vice Chairman, Global Crossing Ltd, USA), Anthony Briscoe (General Manager-International, Telecom New Zealand, Ltd., New Zealand) and Larry Schwartz (Group Vice President, Compaq Computer Corporation, USA). Collectively, they presented a picture of accelerating growth in Internet-driven applications that are contributing to an explosive growth in the underlying telecommunication and information system infrastructure. Major additional capacity in undersea and terrestrial fibre networks demands huge investments in hardware and software for control and routing. At the user end, the evolution of the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) will extend Internet capabilities to millions of additional users – including Internet “appliances”. These will include office and security systems and even home applications such as the control of heat and lights, as well as palm-held devices and cellular or PCS telephones with integrated Internet access. All of these additional users add up to enormous demand for bandwidth. The rapid expansion of cable-modem and ADSL access for fixed computer Internet users only serves to further expand this picture. Internet commerce and the quest for economical telecommunication services are major drivers in this expansion, which is only now beginning to happen outside of North America (with the exception of cellular telephony and PCS systems, which are growing most rapidly in less-developed areas). Satellite communications is opening new vistas with global mobile personal communication devices (e.g., Iridium, Globalstar, Teledesic and similar systems). Satellites are particularly advantageous for broadcasting very large amounts of high-speed data over wide areas at very low cost and for reaching remote and inaccessible areas. In spite of the considerable growth of the Internet during the past five years, it is still far from reaching more than a fraction of the population reached by the worlds most pervasive medium – television. And television itself still reaches less than half of the worlds population. Telephony (and almost defunct telegraphy) has never been available to some 60% of Earths inhabitants, more than 150 years after the invention of telegraphy. (The ITU was founded in 1865, nearly 20 years after Samuel F. B. Morses first telegraph message was sent, to facilitate the international exchange of telegraphy traffic, and as such is the senior United Nations Agency). Hence, we are literally at the tip of the iceberg with respect to Internet expansion potential. As the Asian economies recover from their recession of the late 90s and the Latin American economies move forward in economic expansion, the Internet expansion is expected to surge forward with renewed vigour. In fact, it is digital-age applications such as Internet telephony and digital television that will be among the major drivers of the Internet expansion during the next ten years. Internet protocol applications offer the possibility for much more economical delivery of these services, thereby greatly expanding the number of potential users far beyond the numbers reached by analogue television and telephony in the past. Conclusion The Pacific Telecommunications Council will be a major player in Digital Millennium developments in the Pacific Hemisphere as evidenced by PTCs mid-year 2000 seminar and meetings that will be held in Hong Kong from 18 – 22 June at The Regent Hotel, hosted by Asia Satellite.