UCL Technology Innovation Forum Event

The Future of Telecoms & Convergent Media

Convergence Is The Future, But Is It Even Possible? Findings from UCL Future of Telecoms and Convergent Media Forum

Convergence has long been the watchword when discussing the future of telecoms and media, but according to the conclusion of a ground-breaking new forum held at University College London (UCL) on Thursday 12th November, a solution is still as far from reality as ever.

The UCL Telecoms and Convergent Media Forum was attended by experts from across the industry spectrum, including O2, ITV and the GSM Association, as well as the innovative smaller companies and academics that are helping to shape the future of a changing business landscape.

The Forum was split into two sessions, the first of which took the form of a private round table discussion where the vision of convergence was questioned and then hotly debated. It was agreed that the communications and internet industries are working closer than ever before, but whilst advances in technology mean that convergence is technically possible – there is still a very real problem of how to make it commercially viable.

There is no doubt that innovation is the key to overcoming this issue, but with content being king, media companies are extremely wary of the next steps following the flawed example set by the music industry and a generation of young people who now expect free downloads. The same does not apply however to the consumer. It was discussed that the consumer sees no obstacles in the path of convergence, indeed from a consumer viewpoint, convergence is a case of ‘when’ not ‘if’.

The afternoon session comprised two plenary sessions that primarily focused on convergence practicalities and inclusivity from a user viewpoint. There was a shared belief among the panelists that overcomplicating the issue would further flood the market with unwanted and unnecessary applications and systems, but simplifying user experience and giving the consumer a choice based on personal preference was paramount.

Also discussed was the issue of inclusivity of minority groups, such as the deaf community, and how this issue should be dealt with. Public policy on this issue is still catching up with the rapid pace of technological advancement and the panel agreed on the very real threat that the two would remain incompatible without government support and directives.

The Future of Telecoms and Convergent Media Forum was hosted by UCL Advances, a UCL department specifically created to foster innovations of benefit to society and the economy. The Forum was part of a series of three Technology Innovation Forums designed to initiate cross discipline relationships within a business context.