Convergence of the Internet and Telecommunications

Convergence of the Internet and Telecommunications

John B. Meisel (Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville, USA) and Timothy S. Sullivan (Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-986-1.ch008
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The local exchange telephone market is no longer considered to be a natural monopoly as a result of technological advancements. In particular, the power, versatility, and adaptability of digital technology has enabled traditional telecommunications companies to transition their network architecture from one based on copper wires and circuit switches dedicated to the provision of high quality transmission of point-to-point voice signals to a multi-faceted, general network based on fiber optic cables and packet switches capable of providing an array of voice, data, and video services. A network layers model is introduced to conceptualize the process of convergence to the Internet model. Convergence is fundamentally changing the nature of what it means to be a telecommunications company and promises to alter the market structure of many voice, data, and video markets. Convergence has pitted wireline telecommunications companies in a fierce rivalry with cable companies for voice, data, and, increasingly, video services. More generally, this research provides a framework to explain the convergence of communications networks and identifies and analyzes key issues that confront public policymakers. One key competition issue, termed network neutrality, addresses the concern that the evolving broadband network architecture will enable network providers to favor the provider’s services or affiliated services at the expense of independent rivals.

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