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Piecing together the digital age

Piecing together the digital age

The communications industry has come a long way: from fixed line copper wired telephony and over the air television and radio, to wireless telephony, cable TV and internet radio; to mobile telephones with rich data and computational capabilities; to fixed and mobile computers with phone capabilities; and recently, to networks of autonomous nodes that interact with the environment without human intervention. It is clear that technology is moving faster than political will or regulatory form. The market as a whole has had its own natural disasters or “waves of destruction”.

These waves have marked inflexion points, as in Joseph Schumpeter’s gale of creative destruction (from 1942), the “process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionises the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”. Each and every time, creative destruction has given rise to considerable market disruption in which industry players have had to reorganise business models, and regulators and governments have had to revise or construct a new legal and regulatory framework. This is not unique to the communications industry; neither is it new to the industry.

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