Communication has always been critical to the establishment and maintenance of power over distances. From the Persian, the Greek, the Romans and the British, efficient networks of communication were essential for the imposition of imperial authority, as well as for the expansion of international trade and commerce on which these empires were based. Indeed, the extent of the empires can be taken as a efficiency of communication.
Early Modes of Communication 4000 B.C. Sumerian writing on clay tablets.
618 A.D. The “˜ti-pao’ ” official newspaper” introduced in China (T’ang Dynasty).
1453 A.D. Gutenberg bible printed.
1511 A.D First printing pressin the Ottoman Empire.
1837 A.D. Invention of electric telegraph by Samuel Morse.
Lets focus on some of the earlier modes of communication.
The News Print: The news paper industry has always played a significant role in the development of social and commercial opinion in society. Even after the invention of the telegraph system the printed mode of communication has not lost its position in the international trade and commerce. Major news houses such as Reuters(1851), Associated Press (1848), and many more of the early days are still powerful players in the global arena proving that the print media is still going strong. This industry does and annual turnover in access of $45 billion and has a spread of the globe only second to the Internet and the television.
Telegraph: This was the single most important invention of the 19th Century which changed the way people communicated. From its invention in 1837 the telegraph enabled the rapid transmission of information, as well as insuring secrecy and code protection. The business community was the first to make use of this technology which later spread to the defence and military establishments. This technology was the backbone of the expansion and subsistence of the British Empire.
Spread of the Telegraph.
1892 1923 COUNTRIES LENGTH (KMS) GLOBAL SHARE (%) LENGTH (KMS) GLOBAL SHARE (%) British Empire 163619 66.3 297802 50.5 United States 38986 15.8 142621 24.2 French Empire 21859 8.9 64933 11 Denmark 13201 5.3 15590 2.6 Others 9206 3.7 68282 11.7 Total 246871 100 589228 100 Major Telegraphic Events: 18661-65 24000 kms of cable laid during the American Civil War.
1851 First underwater telegraphic line laid between Britain and France.
1866 First trans-atlantic cable laid between Britain and America.
1865 First line between Europe and India via Turkey was started 1870-1880 Cabling of the English coast and the East Indies coast.
Lets us now look at the technologies the today control the communication arena and affect commerce.
Modern Means of Communication Telecommunication: Unlike the telegraph, the telephones were controlled by the Americans. Following the patent by the Bell Telephone Company (Alexander Bell) in 1877, telephone production increased in the US. Even today the spread of the telephone is phenomenal and all technologies are somewhere or the other, including the Internet, relying on the phenomena.
The telephone has always been improving. From the first copper cables of the 19th century to the fibre optic cables of today the telephone has reinvented itself many a times ushering in the Telecommunication Age. This has allowed companies to spread into areas otherwise in accessible. The telephone greatly reduced the time to convey decisions taken by the head offices of major conglomerates and saved the days which were earlier taken in coding and decoding a telegraph message. From the advent of the telephone commerce has increased by 35%. The start of the telecommunication era has changed communication from a mode of doing business to a independent industry itself. In 1998, the top 10 telecom companies held 86% of the market in telecommunication while the leading 10 computer companies controlled almost 70% of the market. By 1999 the value of mergers & acquisitions in this industry had nearly doubles to $561 billion.
The top 10 exporters of telecom equipment ($ million).
COUNTRIES 1990 1992 1994 1996 USA 5210 6403 10074 13025 Germany 2841 3471 5133 6957 UK 1474 1675 3250 6379 Sweden 1842 2053 2869 5423 France 1427 1800 2184 5717 The process of liberalization and globalisation has further benefited this industry shooting up its revenues to $95.1 billion in 1996, an increase of 108% over that of 1990. Corporations based in a few Western countries control this $301 billion worldwide communication industry, growing at 14% annually. (Refer the table below) Top 10 international telecom operators in 1998 by telecom revenue.
OPERATORS COUNTRY INTERNATIONAL TELEPHONE REVENUE (in $ billion) AT&T USA 9.55 MCI Worldcom USA 4.74 Deutsche Telekom Germany 3.35 DGT China 2.20 Hong Kong Telecom China 1.99 KDD Japan 1.90 France Telecom France 1.85 Sprint USA 1.82 VSNL India 1.60 Telecom Italia Italy 1.43 The total revenues of the communication sector, including telecommunication services, broadcasting services and communication equipment, exceeded $ 1 trillion for the first in 1998. At the end of 1997,the total telecommunication services market had grown to more than $ 617 billion, with 64 telecommunications operators having a revenue greater than $ 1 billion.
Lets look at some of the technologies that make this possible.
Teleconferencing: This is a means by which individuals or groups located at different places can exchange data, speech, visual material like graphs or diagrams, or moving pictures of themselves. Teleconferencing is made possible by the intgration of computers and communication in such a manner as to form a holistic system which can work in real-time. With the use of telephone lines of higher bandwidth, and use of optical fiber cables this concept has received further boost. This technology can be further classified into; Computer Conferencing.
Data travels between computers through dedicated telephone lines, making the redundancy of data processing virtually negligible. With higher bandwidths image transfer is also possible.
Similar to the above-mentioned concept, baring the fact that images or data cannot be transmitted.
This concept was introduced to enable the transfer of maps, diagrams and other image files through telephony.
Currently the most advanced form of remote telephony possible. This involves the transfer of audio, visual and presentation material at the same time. This is achieved through the use of Leased telephone lines with bandwidths of well over 2MB in data transfer speed. This makes the participants at various locations simultaneously interact with each other as they would be doing it in the same conference room.
Teletext: This is a form of broadband technology by means of which several pages of textual information can be transmitted on an already existing television channel.
The Delhi Station of Dordarshan provided a teletex service on its 2nd channel, accessible through a decoder. This magazine contains specific pages of information related to trade and commerce, entertainment news etc.
Fax: This involves the transfer of printed or nowadays digital documents and images into electronic pulses. These travel through the normal telephone lines. This technology, along with the advances in video conferencing has greatly reduced the need to travel great distances to finalise a business transaction, or participate in any conference, thus reducing the traveling overheads of companies.
Internet: From the ARPANET in 1969, to the current avtar of the Internet as the most overwhelming communication force, the World Wide Web has come a long way. It took the radio 40 years to reach an audience of 50 million and the television 15 years to do the same fete. But amazingly the Internet crossed the 50 million-coverage mark in 3 years. By the year 2000, the number of users had crossed 320 million promising a growth rate of 1000% annually.
Technological developments, combined with the liberalization of trade has helped the Internet to grow not only as a information tool but also as a means to do business. Trade on the internet has taken hold very quickly. In 1998, companies did $ 43 billion in business with each other over the net. This trade is expected to cross $ 1.4 trillion by the year 2003 according to a 1999 US Government report.
Industry-wise trading on the Internet INDUSTRY E-BUSINESS in 1999($ billion) Computer & Electronics 52.8 Retailing 18.2 Financial Services 14 Travel 12.8 Energy 11 Telecommunication 1.5 The world’s top E-companies COMPANY NAME 1998-’99 REVENUES ($ million) IPO DATE America Online (On-line Servises) 4777 1992 Charles Schwab (Stock Trading) 4113 1987 Amazon.com (E-Retailing) 1015 1997 E* Trade Group (Financial Services) 621 1996 Knight/Trimark Group (Stock Trading) 618 1998 Yahoo! (Entertainment Portal) 341 One of the highest potential growth areas for e-commerce is in Asia, which had just over 14 million users in 1998, but by 2000 its reached nearly 40 million, with Singapore, China, Japan and South Korea being the highly penetrated. On-line advertising has grown from $ 10 million in 1998 to $ 1.5 billion in early 2001.
Internet advertisement revenue forecast ($ millions) REGION 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 North America 1300 2340 3995 5425 7890 Europe 105 235 525 1050 1840 Asia-Pacific 80 130 250 475 815 Latin America 20 45 110 230 420 % of media advertising 0.1 0.2 0.4 0.7 1.1 Mobile Telephony & the Internet: The next stage of convergence is that of the Internet and mobile telephony, combined with development of mobile satellite communication. The birth of the Internet Telephony is heralded as the new Telecommunication Revolution.
With a growth rate of 40% per annum, the mobile telephone industry is expected t cross the 1 billion customer coverage mark in the next decade. By 1990’s it has established itself as a major industry with revenues crossing $ 155 billion. Major global operators and hardware manufacturers are located in the richest parts of the world.
The world’s top 10 mobile cellular operators in 1998 COMPANY SUBSCRIBERS (millions) REVENUES ($ billion) NTT DoCoMo, Japan 23.9 26.2 TIM, Italy 14.3 7.2 AirTouch, USA 14.1 5.2 Vodafone, UK 10.4 5.4 BAM, USA 8.6 3.8 BellSouth, USA 8.2 4.7 AT&T, USA 7.2 5.4 SBC, USA 6.8 4.2 China Telecom, China 6.5 3.2 Omnitel, Italy 6.2 2.8 The Global Digital Divide The global imbalance in the access of information must be viewed within the overall context of the international inequality. The fifth (1/5) of the worlds population living in the highest income group countries has 86% of world GDP, 82% of world export markets, 68% of foreign direct investment and 74% of world telephone lines. The bottom fifth, in the poorest countries, has about 1% of all the above mentioned sectors.
The North South Divide: NEWSPAPER CIRCULATION PER 1000 PERSONS (1994) NEWSPRINT CONSUMPTION PER PERSON (tons) RADIOS PER 1000 INHABITANTS TV SETS PER 1000 INHABITANTS INTERNET USE (IN %) North 286 21.2 1045 544 88 South 44 1.8 198 153 12 World 96 6 379 236 — A limited telecommunication infrastructure has seriously undermined access to the Internet in the developing countries. In 1998 nearly 88% of the internet users were in the North, home to less than 15% of the world’s population. Such disparities slowdown the growth rate of the Internet revolution. But the scenario is looking up with developing countries like India and China actively participating in controlling the destiny of the WWW.
Lastly, Internet through satellite offers new opportunities for education and trade. As this technology expands and becomes more affordable, distance learning and commerce is likely to become a global phenomenon.
Towards the Future Communication from the message runners to the electronic mail has come a long way. From a means to an industry in its own right, with an annual revenue generation of $ 2.1 trillion, the communication industry plays a very important role in the development of all economies the world over. And as the market leaders say, this is still its nasent stage.
Communication today is entering a new era. Moving a step away from video conferencing and other such means of one-on-one conversations, the world is today looking today at technologies such as Holographic Meetings. This technology developed utilizing satellite communication and top of the line image recognition and regenerating artificial intelligence synthesis, would render the concept of actual meetings obsolete. This could end up saving trade and commerce millions of Dollars in actual travel and overheads, completing the conception of a Virtual Office.
Next in line would be the GPS (Global Positioning System). This would allow logistic departments to track cargo in real time not relying upon third party information on the status of their containers. All material will travel with its unique coded chip being tracked by satellites all across the world.
Such technological advances will make today’s best technologies obsolete and herald a new revolution in communication.
One recurring theme in this analysis of international communication has been the continued domination of the global information industry, by a few, mainly Western nations and the transnational corporations based in these countries. From Marconi to Microsoft, a continuity can be detected in how mainly Western technology has set the agenda of international communication, whether it was cabling the world, broadcasting to an international audience or creating a virtual globe through the Internet. The rest of the world has followed the dominant ideology promoted by major powers through their control of international communication “” telegraph, radio, television and the Internet.