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Technology reshapes the ways we communicate.

New telecommunications technologies are revolutionizing the ways we share information and communicate with each other, in Ontario and throughout the world.

New breakthroughs in literally thousands of different technologies are taking place on an ongoing basis.

We will continue to see, for example, incredible breakthroughs in miniaturization and chip memory. Chip memory is evolving from about 20 million transistors on a 16-megabit memory chip emerging from the lab today to a billion transistors on a chip by the year 2001.

This represents more than a millionfold rise in the cost-effectiveness of computing in a decade.

Other forms of memory also are constantly expanding. A 5.5-inch CD-ROM can already store up to 65,000 pages of documents - about 30 yards of books.

In addition to memory and miniaturization, six of the key technological components of this revolution are digital systems, fibre optics, new wireless technologies, satellite technologies, new levels of network intelligence and multi-media networking.

The ongoing push toward all-digital networks is making it possible to send any type of information - sound, image, data and full-motion video - the same way. Digital means a greatly enhanced signal quality, more efficient and easier control of the network and, ultimately, more flexible and wider-ranging service networks for the end users. The digitalization of Canada's telecommunications infrastructure is well under way.

Digital signal processing (literally a way of manipulating the information signal once it is digitized) is also facilitating a whole new level of applications such as compression, which makes it possible to send slow-motion video over ordinary telephone lines for video teleconferencing systems.

Video conferencing, one of the burgeoning areas in the industry, is expected to grow by more than 25 per cent annually in Canada in the next four years.

Digital signal processing is also one of the key elements in developing print-recognition scanners, fingerprint imaging readers and electronic voice recognition and response systems that could one day provide simultaneous translation between two people speaking different languages to each other over telephones anywhere in the world.

Fibre optics is another important core technology. As a medium applied to transmission access and switching systems, and in conjunction with the international standard Synchronous Optical Network (SONET) protocol, it provides virtually unlimited capacity - or bandwidth - for more users using more services. It will ultimately deliver multi-media services such as switched two-way video for entertainment, education, sales and desktop video conferencing as easily as we switch voice today.

New wireless technologies are also providing new levels of reachability and mobility when and wherever the communication of information is desired or needed.

Analog cellular technology has grown from 12,000 users in 1985 to more than 760,000 today, with more than 300,000 users in Ontario. The other wireless technologies, including home cordless, paging, specialized mobile radio, and two-way sky phones have also experienced tremendous growth.

Now digital cellular technology is being introduced in Canada. Among other benefits, digital cellular technology will make it possible to put more users on each cell and to improve the quality of transmission.

In addition to digital cellular systems, it is likely that low-power digital wireless will also become available in Canada within the next two years. It will eliminate the interference of today's analog cordless phones, which makes them impractical for most business applications.

Low-cost digital wireless will make it possible to introduce practical, interference-free pocket telephones for pedestrians in office buildings, homes, warehouses, hospital campuses, airports, shopping malls and other places where mobility is required.

Advances in satellite technology will also play a large role in the future. Satellite communication is evolving rapidly to take advantage of modes with which fibre cannot compete, including one-to-many very-small-aperture terminal (VSAT) networks, mobile communication and a new generation of direct broadcast satellite (DBS) broadcasting.

Another key technology that will have a major impact on telecommunications applications is intelligence both in the network and in customer equipment.

New intelligence in the network makes it possible, for example, to deploy services rapidly on a network-wide basis, spot trouble in the network faster, reroute traffic around trouble spots before service is affected, anticipate problems and fix them without human intervention.

In addition, new levels of intelligence will make it possible for users to customize their networks to match their communications requirements with greater precision.

These innovations, in combination with a number of other technologies, are spurring on the revolution of communications in the office and home. This synergy is popularly known as multi-media.

Multi-media networking means delivering to homes and offices the capabilities to transmit and manipulate information of any type - voice, data, image or video - over a single terminal, and communicating this information in real time as easily as we use the telephone today.

Multi-media terminals at home or work are expected to combine all the elements of the telephone, computer and television into a single system which has been dubbed the telecomputer.
COPYRIGHT 1992 Laurentian Business Publishing, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:telecommunications technology
Publication:Northern Ontario Business
Date:Nov 1, 1992
Previous Article:Telecommunications generates manufacturing jobs.
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