Headlines: July 8th, 1999

High speed telecommunications technology is set to revolutionise the way public services can be delivered. Existing telephone lines and a new wireless system will provide links to the Internet ten times faster than today and with much greater bandwith. By July 2001 both BT and its competitors will start to provide new high speed services with low cost ‘always on’ links to the Internet through upgraded telephone lines. About the same time, a new bridge to the Internet will be created using low cost wireless links.

Increased bandwidth and speed will allow interactive use as well as video transmission. Important developments which are waiting for this new technology include tele- medicine and virtual classrooms. The way in which public bodies communicate with customers will change radically. The personal touch which is being lost with current submission of forms via the Internet could be restored with a video link which once again allows the customer to talk to the official. Internal communications could also be transformed with video links between offices and even between home and office.