Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport Fourth Report



65. Convergence in essence is the ability of different network platforms to carry similar kinds of services although presentation may be constrained by the particular device in question (television, personal computer, mobile telephone or other).[59] Convergence facilitates rapid and combined transmission of audio, video and text. Telecommunications networks can be used for video material. Transmission systems such as satellite traditionally associated with television can be used for accessing the Internet.[60] The transforming potential of convergence was encapsulated in the submission from AOL UK to the previous Committee in 2001:

    "At its heart convergence revolutionises the role of consumers in the communications industry. Consumers now have the potential to enjoy: multiple ways of accessing content ... new forms of content ... new ways of controlling content through interactivity ... and an unfettered ability to create content and make it accessible to others."[61]

66. As we have discussed above, the Government has a stated aim of ensuring universal access to the Internet by 2005. The potential for interactive digital TV to be used to gain access to the Internet would be a major boost in meeting this target. However, it is not at all plain sailing. We have already witnessed the failure of the much heralded WAP technology for mobile phones and delays to the development of 3G services (the third generation of mobile telephone technology). If the take up of digital television does falter as a result of ITV Digital's failure, and a cheaper and non-interactive set-top box comes into vogue, then a major opportunity to achieve progress with an important Government target may have been wasted.

59   HC (1997-98) 520-I, para 9. Back

60   Ibid, para 10. Back

61   Evidence, p 156. Back

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