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like the de facto standards development that prevails in most of the rest of the computer industry; it can occur rapidly, and it fosters competition.
These innovations will increase demand for bandwidth, possibly at a rate faster than it can be made available, especially for local access. On the other hand, facilities owners are making and acting on plans to incrementally expand available bandwidth. Reflecting their interdependence with pure service providers, their investments are due at least partially to orders by smaller service providers that are reselling the services, committing the sales and marketing resources in small niche markets, and/or adding content to the service (e.g., America Online on top of SprintNet).
An interesting indicator is the relatively high incidence of carrier partnerships or initiatives to deliver information.
Today Cisco Systems exports almost all of the routers for the Internet worldwide, and most of the supporting software for TCP/IP comes from the United States.
However, changes in software should not be viewed as trivial. An important goal is reducing users' costs associated with adopting new software, since the cost in time, money, and discomfort of user retraining to new software systems can be a major barrier to adoption of alternatives, even if they are inherently superior. Note, however, that there have been relatively rapid changes in PC software user interfaces: Windows has effectively replaced DOS as a PC operating system; in word processing, Microsoft's Word is leading WordPerfect, both having replaced Wordstar.
New products coming on the market today allow one to connect a PC to a cable TV network and to watch on the PC screen both TV pictures and information (in the form of Web pages) about the material being seen. Network interfaces for TVs are being developed that will enable TVs to be used for playing interactive games over the Internet, and (to some extent, limited by screen resolution) for searching and attaching to the Web.
If, however, custom network interfaces for the different networks that enter the home have to be attached to such a device, then its final form, if it matures, will be in two parts, with the basic unit belonging to the consumer, and featuring attachment sockets or slots into which different network interfaces can be inserted. Such an architecture has not been developed or accepted for a consumer network interface yet, although it has been discussed. However, it bears some resemblance to a PC, which has a bus or external interface into which network cards are traditionally inserted. This raises the possibility that a PC could become a consumer network cross-connection device, a proposal that generates both interest and skepticism, depending on which industry sector is speaking. See Chapter 2.
See CSTB (1994b and 1995b) and their references for fuller consideration. Anderson et al. (1995) provide a thoughtful examination of electronic mail as an initial focus for universal access.
There are areas of application, in health, education, transportation, and library services, for example, where government has functional responsibilities that could be better served by full use of information and communications services.