A Infocom wikiből

Infocommunications is the natural expansion of telecommunications with information processing and content handling functions including all types of electronic communications (fixed and mobile telephony, data communications, media communications, broadcasting, etc.) on a common digital technology base, mainly through Internet technology [1].


The term Infocommunications, or in short form, Infocom(s) or Infocomm(s) first emerged at the beginning of the 1980s at scientific conferences, and was gradually adopted in the 1990s by all major players of the telecommunications sector, including manufacturers, service providers, regulatory authorities and international organizations to clearly express their participation in the convergence process of the telecommunications and information technology sectors [2]. The convergence process is triggered by the huge scale development of digital technology, and hence it is generally called digital convergence. Digital technology has unified, Internet technology radically reshaped telecommunications, and integrated information processing and content management functions. The uniform digital technology base has given rise not only to the effectiveness of the economies of scale and the efficient increase of the complexity of the products and services, but has also provided additional synergic opportunities for the combination of the functions [3].

From the point of view of telecommunications, four main overlapping phases of penetration of digital technology have been identified. To present the evolutionary phases, a simple value chain model is used to represent the consequent value-generating functions from information sources to the usage at the destination (Figure 1) [1].

1. Digitization of the separate telecommunication subsectors. Traditionally, the various contents have been associated with separated networks, services and user terminals, and their markets, value chains and regulation have been separately managed. Voice has been managed by telephony (voice communications), data and text by data communications, audio-visual programs by radio & television broadcasting and distribution (media communications) (Figure 1a). These separated subsectors had their own specific technology; however the use of digital technology for the various functions has been intensively introduced. The digitization of telephony started with the use of digital transmission, followed by the introduction of digital control and switching, which led to an integrated digital telephone network [4]. Modern mobile telephony is already fully based on digital technology. Digital solutions have also penetrated into media communications.

2. Unification of telecommunications: Electronic communications. Any kind of digitized information content can be transmitted through various digital networks and therefore the integrated realization of these networks is reasonable [4]. A broadband Internet Protocol (IP) based network is equally able to transmit voice, data, text, audio-visual programs, multimedia etc. The combination of voice, data and audio-visual services offers new IP-based multimedia service opportunities. At the users, various integrative terminals appeared. The value chains of the voice, data and media communications have been merged; horizontal convergence and some integration of the services, networks and terminals can be identified, and a single value chain with three horizontal layers can be shaped (Figure 1b) [2], [5]. A unified telecommunication sector has emerged, which is formally called electronic communications. In deploying these horizontal convergences, uniform regulation was introduced for electronic communications in the European Union [6].

3. Expansion of telecommunications: Infocommunications. Electronic communications provide the bearing digital infrastructure for the digitalized content services and applications, whereby the digital convergence process has been naturally expanded to all information and media technology functions. The same digital message form is used in the computer sector for passing messages within and between the computers, together with the growing operational use of computers within telecommunications, resulting in a synthesis between the telecommunications sector and the computer-based information sector (info-com convergence) [4]. The IP-based solutions in both sectors integrated the isolated areas and generated an integrated structure for processing, storing, accessing and distributing information. The electronic media and content production and management have also been involved into the convergence process (media convergence), which is demonstrated by the immense spread of the Internet provided by telecommunications and Internet service providers. Electronic content services and applications based on web technologies and delivered by electronic communication networks and services have emerged, e.g. e-business, e-commerce, e-health, e-learning, e-government, smart home, office and cities, and intelligent transportation and energy systems. In general they can be called e-content or infocommunication applications [7], [8], [9]. The value chain of infocommunications contains three additional layers (Figure 1c) [1]:

  • the layer of content space, symbolizing the jointly-managed information sources and the customer’s payable demands;
  • the layer of e-content or infocommunication applications, including from simple content services to the wide variety of secure and multi-content Internet services;
  • the layer of the common IT infrastructure for applications, the middleware layer, including common message handling, content management functions (e.g. directory assistance, editing, indexing), browsers, portals, search engines, security systems etc.

The layers of IT infrastructure, e-communication services and networks together can be considered the infocommunication infrastructure. Similar layer models of infocommunications embracing the functions provided by the Internet technology have been shown and discussed to allocate the players of infocommunications to layers [8], [9].

4. Expanding Infocommunications by expanding content space: Cognitive Infocommunications and Internet of Things. Traditionally the sensory information managed has been limited to vision and audition, but the content space can be expanded to all senses, including the tactile/haptic, olfactory and other modalities, 3D spatial gesturing as well as in general to human emotions and feelings. Cognitive infocommunications (CogInfoCom) expands the content space with cognitive and sensory content, and gives conceptually new approaches to the merging of cognitive sciences and infocommunications in order to extend the capabilities of the human brain through infocommunication devices [10], [11], [12], [13]. In the value chain the content layer is expanded and the applications layer involves the bridging of sensory information to more applicable sensory modalities, if necessary (Figure 1d) [14]. There are also business drivers behind connecting billions of devices to the Internet, leading to the concept of Internet of Things (IoT). The basic building block of the Internet of Things is Machine-to-Machine communications (M2M), for the devices equipped to communicate without the intervention of humans [15], [16]. To deploy the concept of Internet of Things, the limitations of the present Internet must be eliminated, new Internet architectures are required. Recently the Future Internet is a cutting edge research field, aiming at the resolution of recent challenges and the extension of the emerging opportunities [17], [18]. Three Dimensional (3D) Internet also radically expands the environment of communications and provides widespread opportunities for cognitive infocommunications [19]. In general, by enhancing the intelligence of things, particularly their artificial cognitive components and sensory capabilities, proper CogInfoCom systems can be created [13] and an Internet of Cognitive Things can be approached.

Figure 1 Evolutionary phases of infocommunications
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Remarks, related terms

Today, the term Infocommunications (Infocom) is used to refer to an expanded telecommunications – in the sense described above. The term is generally used by telecommunications manufacturers, service providers and regulatory authorities, in scientific papers and university curricula, and in the names of scientific and professional conferences and journals (e.g. IEEE Infocom, Infocommunications Journal). The term is also used in politics in a wider sense as a shorter form of information and communication(s) technology (ICT). Additionally, the terms info-com(s) and info-communications (with a hyphen) are also often used to express the integration of the information technology (IT) and (tele)communication sectors [9], or simply to interpret the abbreviation ICT.

Figure 2 Digital convergence prism: positioning Infocommunications (can be reprinted here and on Wikipedia with the author's permission)

The term Information and Communication(s) Technology (ICT) has been defined as an extended synonym for information technology (IT) to emphasize its integration with (tele)communications [20]. Recently ICT has become a widely used term which usually refers to the integration of information and telecommunication technology sectors and their convergence with the media and content technology sector, based on common digital technology [21], [22]. However, despite this convergence, content published in mass communication media such as printed, audio-visual and online contents and related services are not considered as ICT products, but are referred to as Media & Content products [23]. The abbreviation TIM, which stands for Telecom IT Media sector, is used to express the full integration of the Telecommunications, IT and Media & Content sectors [24]. The abbreviation TIME, which stands for Telecom IT/Internet Media & Entertainment/Edutainment sector is also in some cases used to express the integration of these sectors.

Over the past several years, the terms Digital World (DigiWorld) [25] and Digital Ecosystem have emerged to embrace all those sectors that are already or on the verge of being based on digital technologies. The Digital Ecosystem is defined by the World Economic Forum as the space formed by the convergence of the media, telecommunications and IT sectors, and consists of users, companies, government and civil society, as well as the infrastructure that enables digital interactions [24].

The convergence of telecommunication, information and media technologies using common digital technology has resulted in an integrated sector that achieves the functions of content and information management and communication by electronic means, including processing, handling, transmission and display. This integrated sector has aptly been called IST (Information Society Technology), or currently the TIM (Telecom, IT and Media) sector. In comparison, the term Digital Ecosystem has a broader meaning.

The relationship and position of the terms can be represented by a digital convergence prism (Figure 2) [1], which shows the three components (T, I, M) as well as pairs and triples of their constituent components (convergent TIM triplet) according to the rule of additive colour mixing. Assuming that telecommunications (Telecom) is blue, informatics (IT) is green and Media & Content is red, teleinformatics/telematics becomes cyan, telemedia/networked media becomes magenta, media informatics becomes yellow, and the convergent TIM becomes white. In this way, the integrated TIM sector corresponds to the prism as a whole, the ICT sector to the whole minus the red area (Media & Content), and the Infocom sector translates to Telecom and the neighbouring three areas (blue, cyan, magenta and white). This means that, for example, media informatics is a part of ICT but not a part of Infocom.

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  1. ^ 1,0 1,1 1,2 1,3 Sallai, Gy.: Defining Infocommunications and Related Terms. Acta Polytechnica Hungarica, Vol. 9, No. 6, 2012. pp. 5-15
  2. ^ 2,0 2,1 International Telecommunication Union (ITU): World Communications - Going global with a networked society. Editor: G. L. Franco Novara, 1991, Italy
  3. Melody, W. H.: Telecom Reform: Progress and Prospects. Telecommunications Policy, Vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 7-34, 1999
  4. ^ 4,0 4,1 4,2 International Telecommunication Union: Convergence and Regulation, Volume of Trends in Telecommunication Reform, 1999, Geneva
  5. Henten, A., Samarajiva, R., Melody, W. H.: Designing Next Generation Telecom Regulation: ICT Convergence or Multisector Utility? Report on the WDR Dialogue Theme, 2003
  6. EU legislation: Regulatory framework for electronic communications. Directive 2002/21/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 7 March 2002.
  7. Commission of European Communities: Green Paper on the Convergence of the Telecommunications, Media and Information Technology Sectors, and Implications for Regulation. Towards an Information Society Approach. 3 Dec. 1997, COM (1997) 623
  8. ^ 8,0 8,1 Fransman, M.: Mapping the Evolving Telecom Industry: The Uses and Shortcomings of the Layer Model. Telecommunication Policy, Vol. 26, 2002
  9. ^ 9,0 9,1 9,2 Krafft, J.: Profiting in the Info-Coms Industry in the Age of Broadband: Lessons and New Considerations. Technological Forecasting & Social Change, Vol. 77, pp. 265-278, 2010
  10. Baranyi, P., Csapó, A.: Definition and Synergies of Cognitive Infocommunications. Acta Polytechnica Hungarica, ISSN 1785-8860, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2012. pp. 67-83
  11. CogInfoCom 2010 (1st International Conf. on Cognitive Infocommunications), 29 Nov. - 1 Dec. 2010, Tokyo, Japan
  12. CogInfoCom 2011 (2nd International Conf. on Cognitive Infocommunications), 7-9 July 2011, Budapest, Hungary, Print-ISBN: 978-1-4577-1806-9
  13. ^ 13,0 13,1 CogInfoCom 2012 (3rd IEEEE International Conf. on Cognitive Infocommunications), 2-5 Dec. 2012, Kosice, Slovakia
  14. Sallai, Gy: The Cradle of the Cognitive Infocommunications. Acta Polytechnica Hungarica, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2012. pp. 171-181
  15. Bakonyi, P., Jaronski, W. and Vilmos, A. (Eds): Europe and the Internet of Things: Leading the Way Forward. Proceedings of IoT 2011 Conference, 16 May 2011, Budapest.
  16. OECD Directorate for Science, Technology and Industry: Machine-to-Machine Communications: Connecting Billions of Devices. DSTI/ICCP/CISP(2011)4, OECD 2012 (30 Jan.)
  17. The Future Internet - Future Internet Assembly 2011: Achievements and Technological Promises, Budapest, 17-19 May 2011, Edited by Dominigue, J. et al. LNCS 6656, ISBN 978-3-642-20898-0, 2011, Springer, Heidelberg
  18. The Future Internet – Future Internet Assembly 2012: From Promises to Reality, Aalborg, 9-11 May 2012, Edited by Alvarez, F. et al. LNCS 7281, ISBN 978-3-642-30240-4, 2012, Springer, Heidelberg
  19. Daras, P. and Alvarez, F.: A Future Perspective on the 3D Media Internet. In: Towards the Future Internet – A European Research Perspective, Edited by Tselentis, G., et al. pp. 303-312, IOS Press, 2009. ISBN 978-1-60750-007-0
  20. Stevenson, D.: Information and Communications Technology in UK Schools, an Independent Inquiry. The Independent ICT in Schools Commission. London, UK, 1997
  21. International Telecommunication Union: Measuring the Information Society: The ICT Development Index. 2009, ISBN 92-61-12831-9
  22. Commission of European Communities: Information / Communications Technologies (ICT) in Horizon 2020, Brussels, November 2011
  23. OECD: Guide to Measuring the Information Society 2011, p. 206, ISBN 978-92-64-09598-4, August 2011
  24. ^ 24,0 24,1 World Economic Forum: Digital Ecosystem - Convergence between IT, Telecoms, Media and Entertainment: Scenarios to 2015. World Scenario Series, 2007
  25. IDATE: DigiWorld Yearbook 2009, ISBN: 978-2-84822-143-4
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