|Issue:||Africa and the Middle East 2008|
|Topic:||Wireless convergence – the enriched experience|
|Title:||Founder & CEO|
Bashers Dahabra is the Founder and CEO of Info2cell.com. Mr Dahabra was the chief architect and promoter of regional wireless portal service in the Middle East. Mr Dahabra developed the info2cell concept having observed and studied the convergence of the Internet and wireless technologies. Mr. Dahabra has extensive experience in the telecommunications sector in systems engineering and management. Mr Dahabra has a BSc degree in electrical engineering from Edimbra University.
Convergence is more than a question of technology. Certainly, it brings together a wide variety of Information and Communications Technologies, services, applications and functions in a single device accessing unified IP-driven voice, data and video communications networks.
Today’s cellular phones reflect the remarkable evolution of telecommunications technology – from the fantastic flip-open communicator seen less than half a century ago in the iconic Star Trek science fiction television series, to the present plethora of science-fact 3G-enabled phones. We can only wonder and – excitedly await – the next wave of technological developments that will redefine the already extremely multifunctional wireless telephone and further revolutionise social exchange. Several factors have contributed to the metamorphosis of mobile communications, including the emergence of new technologies, an increasingly deregulated telecommunications environment, huge consumer demand, and corporate and institutional interest in combined Internet-wireless applications. These influences have led to the creation of digital phones and hybrid personal digital assistants that incorporate personal computer functionality with advanced mobile technology. Such devices provide a heightened transfer of information, combining data, sound, and video to convey messages via an integrated multimedia representation. The modern cellular phone has thus progressed from being a high-end communication device to a versatile social and cultural tool. In fact, the basic cellphone in today’s context includes a camera, video, music player, and Internet browser. The accelerated incorporation of convergence is directing industry efforts towards enhancing the quality of content and the speed of delivery. Mobile phone developers and service providers are focusing on creating delivery systems that will make convergent forms of communication omnipresent in human activity. Such systems will transmit integrated sensory dimensions at a single time and a depth of information that would provide valuable clues on sender and receiver intentions and emotions. The result would be more meaningful and clearer social interaction. The convergence frenzy sweeping the telecommunications sector is not entirely limited to technological aspects, though. In fact, there are five categories of convergence that are highly noticeable: functional, technological, economic, political, and geographical. Functional convergence implies that specific technologies now provide more functions than they were originally intended to. In telephony, this refers to the merging of broadcasting, telecommunications and computing services into a single communications system. Technological convergence refers to how technologies are merging into one; a perfect example would be today’s high bandwidth carrier technologies, which delivers voice, data, picture and interactive media via a single carrier technology such as fibre optic, cable, wireless or satellite. Economic convergence refers to the manner in which an organisation has to set aside its individuality in favour of a collective relationship with one or more other parties. For example, telephone companies have partnered with Internet service providers to provide mobile content. Modern telephony also has profound effects on the geographical and political spectra. In geographical convergence, telecommunications has made the world a global village where distance does not impede communication and interaction. The movement towards a globalised society, on the other hand, represents a political convergence, where national regulators are converging as regional authorities tasked to manage regional ICT. Today’s mobile convergence interestingly reveals that technologies do not themselves create new fields and activities. Rather, technologies appear as specific forms influenced by culture and the time in which they are developed. In the same way that computer technologies sprouted from military research and development, convergent mobile phone technologies were significantly driven by societal efforts which gained momentum in the 1990s to create an intimate global community unconstrained by time and space. In fact, many mobile telephony technologies that developers were sure would be accepted by global markets because of either technical strength or functional superiority have long since faded away, precisely because consumers played a huge part in dictating what features would define a desirable mobile device. Converged devices are not free from some disadvantages, ironically brought about mainly by their multi-functionality. For one, these devices are often less functional and reliable than their modular part; a DVD player will play a DVD movie more conveniently and reliably than a games console, for example. Single devices are also vulnerable to breakdowns since they service a wide array of consumer needs. Bringing a device to a service centre for repairs will cut off access to a host of services at once, not only the malfunctioning service or function. Lastly, many mobile devices use complex user interfaces. Nevertheless, such setbacks are mainly technological in nature. As more telephony devices converge, their services, both innovative and effective solutions to these issues, will definitely arise.