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Socioeconomic and Technological Impact Assessment and Forecasts

Objective

The objective of this project is to assess the major socio-economic and technological issues facing Europe in the development of advanced communications. Research is being focused in three main directions:

- Quantitative and qualitative macroeconomics assessment of the contribution of increased investment in telecommunications infrastructures to increase productive efficiency and overall economic growth.
- Potential of advanced telecommunications for the delivery of socially critical services (opportunities and barriers to deployment).
- Socio-cultural needs at the individual and household level to access 'user-driven, computer-aided, multimedia, two-way communication services'.

In the third year, the project objective expands to address T.765 (Application Strategies for Advanced Communications), integrate conclusions with those relative to the current work and devise strategies which will enable advanced communications to reach its full potential both as a market and a tool for users.
The objective of this research was to assess the major socioeconomic and technological issues facing Europe in the development of advanced communications.
Research was focused in 3 main directions:
quantitative and qualitative macroeconomic assessment of the contribution of increased investment in telecommunications infrastructures to increase productive efficiency and overall economic growth;
the potential of advanced telecommunications for the delivery of socially critical services (opportunities and barriers to deployment);
sociocultural needs at the individual and household level to access user driven, computer aided, multimedia, 2-way communication services.

The methodology followed for the macroeconomic assessment combined field research in the form of interviews with representative organizations from a range of industry sectors and member states of the European Community and input output causal analysis of Eurostat and other statistical tables with due consideration paid to diffusion models of advanced communication technology innovations, their effect on employment, and implications for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) and lesser developed regions.

The research has resulted in the following recommendations:
It is most important that decision makers be made aware of the developing change of perspective for integrated broadband communications (IBC);
Where action is taking place already, European players should be encouraged to compete right away with the United States for potential European business, and European firms should not wait for the United States to take the initiative for new project developments;
Undue regulatory constraints, which bar the emergence of true multimedia communications at the initiative of telecommunication, cable television or others, should be removed;
Progressive but strict new regulation is required to ensure that operators of the new network infrastructures will provide easy access for all organizations involved in the delivery of those socially critical services that could benefit much from advanced communication support, in particular schools, other educational institutions, hospitals and clinics;
Public incentives may be in order to fill the gaps that will develop in the deployment process, either to get it started, to facilitate interconnection between national networks, or to encourage early deployment to less favoured areas. However, this should be on an ad hoc basis rather than planned and controlled centrally.
Technical Approach

- Collect and consolidate, in co-operation with the concerned project teams, results of usage experience of advanced communications as experimented in RACE projects of relevance (Project Line 7 - ACE) and in other programmes/projects from elsewhere in the EC and other regions.
- To develop and analyse the criteria that affect successful implementation and exploitation of advanced communication applications.
- Develop, to the extent feasible, socio-economic cost benefit analyses and establish what incentives may be required to accelerate the process where appropriate.

Key Issues

- Telecommunication networks are entering a new era with breakthrough functionality and price/performance improvement potential.
- User needs have yet to be consolidated and translated into Common Functional Specifications or the preparation of Common Practice Recommendations.
- Even the qualitative assessment of how they can be put to work for the best benefit of the individual and the community requires much creative and forward looking thinking to reach beyond what a simplistic extrapolation of the past may suggest.

Expected Impact

The objective of the project is to develop recommendations for proactive deployment of effective pan-European advanced communication services to support economic and social objectives that are not directly market-driven.

It addresses the Commission's and Parliament's requests to develop an up-to-date assessment of socio-economic issues related to the deployment of IBC in Europe.

Coordinator

Technology Investment Partners
Address
196 Avenue Victor Hugo
Paris
France

Participants (5)

GEMINI CONSULTING
France
Address
11 Bis Rue Leroux
75116 Paris
General Technology Systems Ltd
United Kingdom
Address
Brunel Science Park Kingston Lane
UB8 3PQ Uxbridge
TELMARK GMBH
Germany
Address
Kaiser-wilhelm-ring 20
5000 Köln
Teknibank SpA
Italy
Address
Corso Italia 8
20122 Milano
University of Sussex
United Kingdom
Address
Mantell Building Falmer
BN1 9RF Brighton