This report was prepared by the ITU to coincide with the TELECOM Interactive 1997, Exhibition and Forum held in Geneva from September 8-12, 1997. The subject of the report is the Internet, and more particularly the relationship between the Internet and the telecommunications industry. The development and growth of the Internet is arguably the biggest single challenge that the telecommunications sector faces in the last years of the 20th Century. But it is also its biggest opportunity.
Both Internet services and public telecommunication services are offered over essentially the same public network; the same mix of copper, fibre-optics and satellite connections. Indeed, the applications offered are also becoming increasingly similar: interactive, digital, real-time information services. But the Internet and the public telecommunication service operate different protocols, with different pricing structures and different regulatory frameworks. Can the Internet continue to co-exist with the telephony business on the same public network, or will the network fragment? Will the Internet change, once and for all, the way the public network operates?
This report examines the issues which are likely to become flashpoints in this struggle for control.