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“The Internet has already spawned the creation of a host
of new applications and these are spreading from
computers to other devices. Broadband accelerates this process.”
Having examined the
development of broadband infrastructure and technologies, and the
challenges involved in providing the service at a reasonable price, the
next question to be posed is “what to do with it?” In short, how is
broadband used today, and what are the implications for future uses, for
market development and for users?
The Internet has already
spawned the creation of a host of new applications, including web surfing,
instant messaging, file sharing, e-commerce and e-mail. With the advent of
broadband and its faster always-on connections, the possibilities for the
development of such services are growing dramatically, opening the path to
interactive applications, especially online games, virtual reality and
other high-quality digital services.
The report provides an
overview of current and future applications for broadband technologies,
including consumer-oriented services such as Internet browsing, voice
services (e.g. voice over broadband or Internet Protocol), entertainment
and information supply. Specific public domain services are also examined,
including e-government, e‑education and e-medicine, as well as
e-commerce and business uses.
Broadband usage is of
course interlinked with content and the evolution of models for the
development and distribution of online content—raising associated
regulatory and ethical issues—and possible bottlenecks in the
commercialization and distribution of broadband services. These aspects
are also examined in the report.
regards Internet content, for example, IPR concerns enter strongly into
play. With Internet content, the established IPR system has had to grapple
with new areas of media diffusion. The IPR framework is being readapted,
but much more work and negotiation will be necessary. With broadband, the
type and quantity of content exchanged globally is set to increase
drastically, raising the stakes even higher. In particular, since the
well-known Napster case came to a head in 2000 over free music
downloads; peer-to-peer (P2P) technologies have been seen as a threat by
the commercial entertainment industry.
Internet TV and home networking in Japan
broadband era, personal computers and personal digital assistants (PDA)
are not the only types of terminal for accessing the Internet. Since the
advent of higher-speed networks, manufacturers have been developing
various broadband terminals, which are thus far being used by only a
minority of subscribers. Examples include video game consoles, Internet
television (TV) appliances, set-top boxes (STB) and home servers.
In Japan, the
Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and
Telecommunications’ (MPHPT) latest annual random sample survey
concluded that there were 3.64 million people who accessed the Internet
either from their game console or from a television set in 2002,
although the precise number of units in use is not known. Internet TVs
started to emerge in 1999 in Japan, but the products available at the
time did not attract many consumers. However, technology has evolved
since then and the user interface has also improved substantially while
prices have fallen.
was one of the first products and it provided a state-of-the-art
wireless video device at the time of launch. Improvements added over the
past three years culminated in the IDT-LF3 version, which was released
in January 2003. Airboard was created as a wireless Internet tablet
rather than as audiovisual equipment.
the IEEE 802.11b “Wi-Fi” standard, it can be connected to the
Internet at up to 11 Mbit/s. The device can be used almost anywhere
(within a 30-metre radius) in the home or garden and even in the
bathroom (with a protective cover). One can watch TV as well as
capturing video images of choice from the programmes one watches for
printing or sending on as e-mail attachments. The battery life is
currently quite short, but with improvements expected in the near
future, devices like these will certainly change the way an increasing
number of people use video information.
An STB is
defined as a device that is connected to a TV, permitting access to
various content, including pay-per-view. Although there are many
possible uses, STBs can also be used for broadband content distribution.
Broadband subscribers can watch broadband video programmes on their TV
with an STB. In Japan, BB Cable TV, for example, offers STBs to its
subscribers as does the fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) service provider, Bbit-Japan.
One of the main benefits to subscribers with STB is that they can enjoy
higher quality video than those with only a PC.
development in 2002 was the emergence of home servers, comprising an
integrated PC, DVD, TV, etc. Sharp’s Personal server (named HG-01S),
launched in February 2003, is one example. It can interconnect a PC,
mobile phone, TV, and other appliances. This device even enables the
user to access their home network when absent from home, for example by
setting the video timer via their mobile phone or watching recorded TV
programmes on their PC.
ITU case study on Broadband in Japan, at: http://www.itu.int/osg/spu/casestudies/.