Convergence and the challenge of infrastructure


Around the world, convergence is driving a new pattern of consumer demand, causing major communications platforms that were once separate to overlap. Experts say for Nigeria to reap the benefits of this new technology, investment in network infrastructure is vital, Adline Atili writes.

In the past, technological systems were disparate, each operating on a specific device. A camera was only used to take pictures; a phone was for making and receiving voice calls; a tape deck or compact disc player was for playing music; a computer was used for e-mails and other typing functions.
Today, all that has changed. A single device can be used to carry out all these functionalities. You can even buy and sell from a mobile phone.What we are witnessing today is convergence of technology—convergence of computing, broadcasting and telecommunications.

Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission, Yomi Bolarinwa, at a forum in Lagos, said convergence is when hitherto separate technologies such as computers, telephones, radio, fax machines and television, are merged into a single digital-bit stream, synergistically creating new efficiencies.
He said: “This means the television in the living room will no longer be just a television, but it will be an ‘information’ appliance. In adition to being able to display video streams, it will also be able to present other types of information-Web pages, online stock quotes, interactive city maps, virtual lectures, etc.”
This, according to him, is redefining the competitive landscape, giving rise to new business models.

Convergence is increasingly prevalent in the Information Technology (IT) world; in this context, combination of two or more different technologies in a single device.

Taking pictures with a cell phone and surfing the Web on a television are two of the most common examples of this trend. One of the drivers behind convergence is that of user convenience, and that applies especially in the application (content) delivery area.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of DCC Networks, Oladipo Raji, said key drivers of convergence include customer convenience, technological advancement, change in value, as well as cost optimisation.“The world is fast becoming a knowledge economy, with value moving from tangibles to intangibles and aggregation.

“Cost cutting to fund investment in other services; cost savings from multiple media; cost savings from maximising the use of one media, are all driving convergence trends,” he said.

Head of e-Banking at First Bank of Nigeria, Chuma Ezirim, noted that in the financial sector, the widespread adoption of the Internet and mobile technology is changing the way people connect and transact across the globe, with devices and payments system convergence driving growth of electronic payment channels.