Modern communications are continually being transformed by new products and technologies. Today most people use mobile phones, and business travellers communicate online using Wi-Fi technology although the Internet, and its associated technologies, is a very recent development. This Case Study examines how the development of the World Wide Web (WWW) and broadband technology has had such a dramatic impact as illustrated by the development of online gaming through BT.
BT is one of the UK's largest firms with a sales turnover of £18.7 billion in the year ended March 2003 and employing 104,700 people worldwide (96,300 in the UK). It firmly believes in the importance of addressing customers' needs; 'customers don't exist to help us make profit, we exist to deliver what they want.
The Internet is a global collection of computer networks with a common addressing scheme. The World Wide Web consists of web pages (documents) that are stored on computers called web servers and accessed on the Internet and interconnected through clickable 'Hypertext links'. They contain text, graphics, animations, sounds, video clips and live views from cameras.
The Internet (or net) has been around since 1969, but it only really took off as a business and home communication tool in the mid 1990s with the development of the first effective web browsers. It began as a means of sharing academic research through one program bringing together all the existing information systems. Web browser development led to a massive escalation in web navigation. However a major barrier to growth was the speed of access and downloads.
The solution to this problem was broadband. The UK government's Office for Communication (OFCOM) defines broadband as 'higher bandwidth always-on services, offering data rates of 128 kilobytes per second and above.' There are different types of broadband including Asymmetric Digital Subscriber line (ADSL) and Cable. Cable installations use the cable TV network existing in many towns and cities whilst ADSL uses an advanced signal processing technology over the existing BT copper wire network.
The advantages of broadband over traditional phone line connections are:
- higher capacity - faster download times
- it is always on - there is no need to dial up
- a phone, accessed over the same line, can be used simultaneously.
The UK government is firmly behind the development of what it refers to as Broadband Britain. It is pushing to achieve the most extensive, competitive broadband market in Europe by 2005 and BT aims to have 90% availability by Summer 2004. BT is working to deliver the UK Online project making all communication and transactions with government available online.