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The next generation of communications technologies

"21st Century: the Communications Age", a major conference on the future of advanced communications, was held at the European Parliament in Brussels, on 18 June 1997. The conference, jointly organized by the Parliament and the European Commission, looked at the development of ...
"21st Century: the Communications Age", a major conference on the future of advanced communications, was held at the European Parliament in Brussels, on 18 June 1997. The conference, jointly organized by the Parliament and the European Commission, looked at the development of the next generation of advanced communications technologies from both a policy viewpoint and from a technological viewpoint.

The conference was a showcase for a number of projects funded by the Community's current specific RTD programme in the field of Advanced Communications Technologies and Services (ACTS), and its predecessor, RACE. Not only were a number of projects demonstrated to participants at the conference, but people from across Europe were able to participate in the event thanks to the JAMES (Joint ATM - Asynchronous Mode Transfer - Experiment on European Services) project, funded by ACTS.

This conference was just one in a series of inter-linked events, held throughout the week around the world, able to share sessions thanks to recent developments in communications technology. In addition, a number of the speakers, including keynote speakers from Japan and Canada, contributed by teleconference, emphasizing the global reach of modern communications technologies. Given the network of communications services involved in the week of conferences and events, it was probably the biggest ever demonstration of ATM technologies in the world.

"21st Century: the Communications Age" itself was opened by Umberto Scapagnini, President of the Parliament's Committee on Research, Technological Development and Energy, who set out the objectives for the day. Firstly the conference would increase awareness and understanding of the key roles for advanced communications technologies in building the Information Society, and secondly, consider the political and economic context in which European research is being conducted, in order to see where Europe's future priorities may lie.

During the morning session, the policy aspects of communications development were discussed, with a number of presentations by Ministers and politicians from around Europe. The afternoon session turned to technological aspects, with speakers from major companies at the forefront of developing communications technologies. This second session was intended to be provocative, examining possible scenarios for communications developments and even the resulting changes in lifestyles.

The closing speech was given by Mr. Robert Verrue, Director-General of the Commission's Directorate-General for Telecommunications, information market and exploitation of research (DG XIII). He outlined the European Community's work, both in the regulatory field and in research, towards the development of a communications society. Commenting on the importance of technology as a "facilitator", Mr. Verrue pointed out that "The deployment of an advanced communications infrastructure is the cornerstone of, and an essential precondition for, building an Information Society. For advanced communications will in effect dertermine how smoothly and how competitively all other economic sectors in Europe can function."

The views raised at the conference are expected to be an important input into the development of the Fifth RTD Framework Programme's activities in the field of communications technologies, and the development of future Community policies.

Source: CORDIS Information Collection Unit

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