2002 is likely to see the challenging times continue. Telecom faces the biggest hurdles driven by the overcapacity in the fibre laid worldwide and the huge licence fees committed for 3G in Europe. Companies are increasingly cautious about their IT spending, especially on computers.
The one area which is likely to recover earlier than others is enterprise software, as companies push ahead with their eBusiness plans in search of efficiencies. Writes Mike Veverka in Barron’s (December 24, 2001) in an article on how the Dow 30 companies are leveraging the Internet and delivering on its promise:
The emergence of the Internet has prompted far more uses among America’s corporate leaders than were originally foreseen. As expected, online purchasing has dramatically streamlined supply chains. But the Web has also brought companies and consumers closer together. And employee portals are simplifying time-consuming paperwork, as well as fostering increased cooperation within companies — and with customers — around the globe.
Two drivers for this change are coming through standardisation – in software and in business processes. 2002 will be the year when Web Services (XML, SOAP, WSDL, UDDI) and Business Process standards (ebXML, RosettaNet, BizTalk) start becoming adopted across organisations in their efforts to become Real-Time Enterprises. 2002 will also see the first salvos in the battle between Microsoft’s .Net and the EJB/J2EE (Enterprise Java Beans/Java 2, Enterprise Edition) that some of the other enterprise software vendors support.
The Mobile Internet is already creating an envelope of connectivity which will have as far-reaching consequences as the wired Internet had. Wireless in all its forms – Bluetooth, 802.11b and 2.5G – are helping build ubiquitous connectivity both for the short-range and long-range, and will become more mainstream in 2002.
In a speech in Mumbai recently, Nicholas Negroponte, the director of MIT’s Media Lab, advocated the use of 802.11b and unlicenced spectrum for telecom in India. By redefining how power can be used, the solution can also be used to go much beyond the few hundred metres it currently supports to provide telecom services in rural areas. He said this is a bottom-up solution which can help India take leadership in the world in telecom.
In India, the two significant changes in the telecom space are the lowering of the STD rates due to competition (starting with cell-to-cell calls carried through Bharti’s national long-distance network, from January 26) and the legalisation of Voice-over-IP (Internet Telephony) from April. Both developments should increase volumes and see India’s high telecom rates drop substantially – finally!
2002 will also see the first of the “convergence gadgets” make way into our lives – from mobile phones with cameras and FM radio (Nokia’s newest phones) to PDAs with cellphones (Handspring Treo). Apple’s iPod, the MP3 player which has got rave reviews, will become available for the Windows platform also. The problem for countries like India remains the high price. What we need here is 30% of the functionality at 30% the price! A start will be made with the launch of the Simputer, which hopes to provide a low-cost computing platform for rural communities in local languages.