Convergence (telecommunications)

Convergence (telecommunications)

Telecommunications convergence, network convergence or simply convergence are broad terms used to describe emerging telecommunications technologies, and network architecture used to migrate multiple communications services into a single network.[1] Specifically this involves the converging of previously distinct media such as telephony and data communications into common interfaces on single devices. Siddhartha defines convergence, in his Policy initiative elemmas on Media Covergence: A Cross National Perspective, as integration and digitalization. Integration, here, is defined as "a process of transformation measure by the degree to which diverse media such as phone, data broadcast and information technology infrastructures are combined into a single seamless all purpose network architecture platform"[2]. Digitalization is not so much defined by its physical infrastructure, but by the content or the medium. Van Dijk suggests that "digitalization means breaking down signals into bytes consisting of ones and zeros".[3][4]

Convergence is defined by Blackman, 1998, as a trend in the evolution of technology services and industry structures.[5] Convergence is later defined more specifically as the coming together of telecommunications, computing and broadcasting into a single digital bit-stream[6].[7][8] Mueller stands against the statement that convergence is really a takeover of all forms of media by one technology: digital computers.[9][10]

Convergence services, such as VoIP, IP-TV, Mobile TV, etc., will replace the old technologies and is a threat to the current service providers. IP-based convergence is inevitable and will result in new service and new demand in the market. [11]

When the old technology converges into the public-owned common, IP based services become access-independent or less dependent. The old service is access-dependent. [12]



Communication networks were designed to carry different types of information independently. Radio were designed for audio, and Televisions were design for video. The older media, such as Television and radio, are broadcasting networks with passive audiences. Convergence of Telecommunication technology permits the manipulation of all forms of information, voice, data, and video. Telecommunication has changed from a world of scarcity to one of seemingly limitless capacity. Consequently, the possibility of audience interactivity morphs the passive audience into an engaged audience.[13]

The historical roots of convergence can be traced back to the emergence of mobile telephony and the Internet, although the term properly applies only from the point in marketing history when fixed and mobile telephony began to be offered by operators as joined products. Fixed and mobile operators were, for most of the 1990s, independent companies. Even when the same organization marketed both products, these were sold and serviced independently.

The norm of the 1990s media convergence: An implicit and often explicit assumption that new media was going to replace the old media and Internet was going to replace broadcasting. In Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital, Negroponte predicts the collapse of broadcast networks in favor of an era of narrow-casting. He also suggests that no government regulation can shatter the media conglomeration. "The monolithic empires of mass media are dissolving into an array of cottage industries.... Media barons of today will be grasping to hold onto their centralized empires tomorrow.... The combined forces of technology and human nature will ultimately take a stronger hand in plurality than any laws Congress can invent."[14] The new media companies claims the old media would be absorbed fully and completely into the orbit of the emerging technologies.

George Gilder dismisses such claim "The computer industry is converging with the television industry in the same sense that the automobile converged with the horse, the TV converged with the nickelodeon, the word-processing program converged with the typewriter, the CAD program converged with the drafting board, and digital desktop publishing converged with the Linotype machine and the letterpress." Gilder believes that computers had come not to transform mass culture but to destroy it.

Media companies put Media Convergence back to their agenda, after the Dot-com bubble burst. Erstwhile Knight Ridder promulgated concept of portable magazines, newspaper, and books in 1994.[15] To imagine and create the entertainment business in the future, The New Orleans Media Experience, organized by HSI Productions, Inc., was hold in October 2003. Jenkins concludes that this events is going to be a old trick, which is going to be like radio stations take over televisions; "An Old Testament God threatening destruction unless they followed His rules" (Jenkins); the media giants are going to occupy the new technology again.[16]

Technology Development List
  1. The printed newspaper (1436)
  2. The 'Silent Pictures (1888)
  3. Radio (1896)
  4. Telephone (1876)
  5. Silicon Chip (1896)
  6. Cellphone (1973)
  7. Digital Camera (1981)
  8. PDA (1981)
  9. The Internet (1983)
  10. Email (1965)
  11. Wikis (1995)
  12. Facebook (2004)
  13. Twitter (2006)


Technology implications

Convergent solutions include both fixed-line and mobile technologies. Recent examples of new, convergent services include:

Convergent technologies can integrate the fixed-line with mobile to deliver convergent solutions. Convergent technologies include:

Social implication

Convergence culture

Jenkins determines convergence culture to be the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want. Bert is Evil (images) Bert and Bin Laden appeared in CNN coverage of Anti-American Protest following September 11. The association of between Bert and Bin Laden links back to the Ignacio's Photoshop project for fun. [16]

Convergence of cell phone

The social function of cell phone changes as the technology converges. Cell phone is never only a cell phone. Because of Technological advancement, cell phones function more than just a phone. It contains internet connection, video players, Mp3 players, a camera. Another example, Rok Sako To Rok Lo (2004) was screened in Delhi, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and other part of India through EDGE-enabled mobile phones with live video streaming facility. [16]

Social movement

The integration of social movement in the cyberspace is one of the potential strategies of social movement in the age of Media Convergence. Because of the neutrality of the Internet network and the end-to-end design, the power structure of Internet was designed to avoid discrimination between applications. Mexico's Zapatistas campaign for land rights was one of the most influential case in the information age; Manuel Castells defines the Zapatistas as "the first informational guerrilla movement"[18]. Zapatista uprising had been marginalized by the popular press and was difficult to gain political access. The Zapatistas were able to construct a grassroots, decentralized social movement by using the internet, which generates influential global interests and the attention of the mainstream media. Zapatistas Effect, observed by Cleaver[19], continues to organize social movements in the global scale. A sophisticated webmetric analysis, which maps the links between different websites an seeks to identify important nodal points in a network, demonstrates that the Zapatistas cause binds together hundreds of global NGOs[20]. The majority of the social movement organized by Zapatistas targets their campaign especially against global neoliberalism (Cleaver, 1988:630). A successful social movement not only need online support but also protest on the street. Papic wrote, "Social Media Alone Do Not Instigate Revolutions", which discusses how the use of social media in social movement needs accommodation of good organizations both online and offline. [21]

Alternative view on convergence

While most scholars argue that the flow of cross-media is accelerating (Jenkins and Deuze)[22], O'Donnell suggests, especially between films and video game, the semblance of media convergence is misunderstood by people outside of the media production industry. The conglomeration of media industry continues to sell the same story line in different media. For example, Batman is in comics, films, anime, and games. However, the data to create the image of batman in each media is created individually by different teams of creators. The same character and the same visual effect repetitively appear in different media is because of the synergy of media industry to make them similar as possible. In addition, convergence does not happen when the game of two different consoles is produced. No flows between two consoles because it is faster to create game from scratch for the industry.[23]

Convergence regulation


The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has not been able to decide how to regulate VoIP (Internet Telephony) because the convergent technology is still growing and changing. In addition to its growth, FCC is tentative to set regulation on VoIP in order to promote competition in the telecommunication industry[24]. There is not a clear line between telecommunication service and the information service because of the growth of the new convergent media. Historically, telecommunication is subject to state regulation. The state of California concerned about the increasing popularity of internet telephony will eventually obliterate funding for Universal Service Programs[25] The Telecom Act of 1996 does not fit to continue to regulate VoIP. Some States attempt to assert their traditional role of common carrier oversight onto this new technology.[26] Meisel and Needles (2005) suggests that the FCC, federal courts, and state regulatory bodies on access line charges will directly impact the speed in which Internet telephony market grows. [27] On one hand, the FCC is hesitant to regulate convergent technology because VoIP with different feature from the old Telecommunication; no fixed model to build legislature yet. On the other hand, the regulations is needed because Service over the internet might be quickly replaced telecommunication service, which will effect the entire economy.

Convergence has also raised several debates about classification of certain telecommunications services. As the lines between data transmission, and voice and media transmission are eroded, regulators are faced with the task of how best to classify the converging segments of the telecommunication sector.Traditionally, telecommunication regulation has focused on the operation of physical infrastructure, networks, and access to network. No content is regulated in the telecommunication because the content is considered private. In contrast, film and Television are regulated by contents. The rating system regulates its distribution to the audience.

Self regulation is promoted by the industry. Bogle senior persuaded the entire industry to pay 0.1 percent levy on all advertising and the money was used to give authority to the Advertising Standards Authority, which keeps the government away from setting legislature in the media industry. [28]

The premises to regulate the new media, two-ways communications, concerns much about the change from old media to new media. Each medium has different features and characteristics. First, internet, the new medium, manipulates all form of information - voice, data and video. Second, the old regulation on the old media, such as radio and Television, emphasized its regulation on the scarcity of the channels. Internet, on the other hand, has the limitless capacity, due to the end-to-end design. Third, Two-ways communication encourages interactivity between the content producers and the audiences. "...Fundamental basis for classification, therefore, is to consider the need for regulation in terms of either market failure or in the public interests"(Blackman).[29]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), founded in 1990, is a non profit organization to defend free speech, privacy, innovation and consumer rights.[30] DMCA, Digital Millennium Copyright Act regulates and protect the digital content producers and consumers.


  • Network Neutrality

Wu and Lessig (2004) explain two reasons to adapt neutral network. First, "a neutral network eliminates the risk of future discrimination, providing more incentive to invest in broadband application development." Second, "neutral network facilitates fair competition among application, no bias between applications."[31] The two reasons also coincide with FCC's interest to stimulate investment and enhance innovation in broadband technology and services[32].[33] Despite regulatory efforts of deregulation, privatization, and liberalization, the infrastructure barrier has been a negative factor in achieving effective competition. "Kim et al. argues that IP dissociates the telephony application from the infrastructure and Internet telephony is at the forefront of such dissociation ." [34] The neutrality of the network is very important for fair competition. [35]

As the former FCC Charman Michael Powell puts it: "From its inception, the Internet was designed, as those present during the course of its creating will tell you, to prevent government or a corporation or anyone else from controlling it. It was designed to defeat discrimination against users, ideas and technologies" [36] Because of these reasons, Shin concludes that regulator should make sure to regulate application and infrastructure separately.

  • Layered Model

The layer Model is first proposed by Solum and Chug, Sicker, and Nakahata. Sicker, Warbach and Witt have supported using layered Model to regulate the telecommunications industry with the emergence of convergence services. Many researchers have different layered approach, but they all agree that the emergence of convergent technology will create challenges and ambiguities for regulations. [11] The key point of the layered model is that it reflects the reality of network architecture, and current business model.[37] The layered Model consists of 1. Access Layer - where the physical infrastructure resides: copper wires, cable, or fiber optic. 2. transport layer - the provider of service. 3. Application layer - the interface between the data and the users. 4. content layer - the layer which users see. [37] In Convergence Technologies and the Layered Policy Model: Implication for Regulating Future Communications, Shin combines the Layered Model and Network Neutrality as the principle to regulate the future convergent Media Industry.[38]

See also


  1. ^ Network convergence definition
  2. ^ Siddhartha, 2
  3. ^ Van Dijk, J. (1999). The network society. London: Sage Publications.
  4. ^ Menon, Siddhartha. "Policy Initiative Dilemmas On Media Convergence: A Cross National Perspective." Conference Papers -- International Communication Association (2006): 1-35. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
  5. ^ Blackman, C. (1998) Convergence between telecommunications and other media: how should regulation adapt? Telecommunication Policy, 22:3, 163-170.
  6. ^ Collin, 1998; Gates, 2000
  7. ^ Conlins,R. (1998). Back to the future: Digital Television and Convergence in the United Kingdom. Telecommunication Policy, 22:4-5, 383-96
  8. ^ Gate, A. (2000). Convergence and competition: Technological change, industry concentration and competition policy in the telecommunications sector. University of Toronto Faculty of Law Review, 58:2, 83-117.
  9. ^ Mueller, 1999, p. 2
  10. ^ Mueller, M.(1999). Digital Convergence and its consequences. Javnost/The Public. 6:3 11-27.
  11. ^ a b Shin, Dong Hee, Won - Yong Kim, and Dong-Hoon Lee. "Convergence Technologies and the Layered Policy Model: Implication for Regulating Future Communications." Conference Papers -- International Communication Association (2006): 1-19. Communication & Mass Media Complete. EBSCO. Web. 26 Oct. 2011.
  12. ^ Grieve, W. and Levin, S. (2005). From Clones To Packets: The Development Of Competition In Local Residential Telecommunications. TPRC 2005 The 33rd Research Conference on Communication, Information and Internet Policy, September 23-25, 2005.
  13. ^ Blackman, Colin (1998). "Telecommunication Policy". Convergence between telecommunications and other media 22 (Elsvier Science Ltd.): 163–170. Retrieved 22 September 2011. {{subst:dated|dead link}}
  14. ^ Negroponte, Nicholas. Being Digital. Knopf, 1995. Print.
  15. ^ Smith, G. "Back to the Future: The Tablet computer that looks just like an iPad... but it is 17 Years Old." MailOnline. 28th April 2011.Web. 26 Oct. 2011.
  16. ^ a b c Jenkins, H. Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide. New York: New York UP, 2006. Print.
  17. ^ BG Creative, A Brief History of Media Convergence: 4000 BC to 2009 AD, August 20, 2009
  18. ^ Castells, 2004:82
  19. ^ Cleaver, 1998
  20. ^ Garrido and Halavais, 2003: 181
  21. ^ Papic, M., Noonan, S. (2011) "Social Media As a Tool for Protest." Stratfor, 3 Feb. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2011.
  22. ^ Jenkins H, Deuze M (2008) Editorial: Convergence culture. Convergence 14(1): 5¡V12.
  23. ^ O'Donnell, Casey. "Games Are Not Convergence: The Lost Promise Of Digital Production And Convergence." Convergence: The Journal Of Research Into New Media Technologies 17.3 (2011): 271-286. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 8 Nov. 2011.
  24. ^ Written in 2011, 10, 27
  25. ^ Kopytoff, V. (2005). Internet Phones in Spotlight, Companies face more scrutiny by U.S., state agencies. IP Telephony News, March, 2005.
  26. ^ Cutler, J (2004). California Regulator Vote to Exammine Rules to Control Voice Over Internet Protocol. Electronic Commerce and Law Report (Vol. 9, No.7) 156-57
  27. ^ Meisel, J., Needles, M. Voice over Internet protocol development and public policy Implications. INFO: the journal of policy, regulation and strategy for telecommunications, information and media, Vol.7, Number 3, 2005.
  28. ^ PERSPECTIVE: Media convergence puts self-regulation at top of the agenda." Campaign 1 Nov. 2002: 02. General Reference Center GOLD. Web. 13 Oct. 2011
  29. ^ Blackman, Colin. Convergence between Telecommunications and Other Media: How Should Regulation Adapt?. Telecommunication Policy, Vol. 22, No.3 PP.163-170, 1998. Great Britain. Print.
  30. ^ "About Eff." Electronic Frontier Foundation, Web. 26 Oct. 2011.
  31. ^ Wu, T., Lessig, L. EX Parte Submission in CS Docket No. 02-52. August, 2004.
  32. ^ FCC, 2004d
  33. ^ FCC (2004d). Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, March 11, 2004
  34. ^ Kim, et al. Regulating Internet telephony: The Challenges and the Opportunities. Proceedings of 15th Portland International Conference on Technology Management.
  35. ^ Wu, T. (2004). Network Neutrality, Broadband Discrimination, Journal of Telecommunications & High Technology Law, Vol. 2.
  36. ^ FCC (2004f). Remarks of Michael J. Copps: Federal Communications Commissioner: The Beginning Of The End Of The Internet? Discrimination, Closed Networks, And The Future of Cyberspace New America Foundation, Washington, Dc. October 9, 2003.
  37. ^ a b Whitt, R.S. (2004). A Horizontal Leap Forward: Formulating a New Communications Public Policy Framework Based on the Network Layers Mode. FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS LAW JOURNAL, Vol. 56, Number 3, 2004.
  38. ^ Shin, D. , Kim, W. and Lee, D. , 2006-06-16 "Convergence Technologies and the Layered Policy Model: Implication for Regulating Future Communications" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association, Dresden International Congress Centre, Dresden, Germany Online <PDF>. 2011-03-14 from

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