Changes in Telecommunications

21st Cooch Memorial Lecture – Friday 29th November, 1991. held at Worthing Lecture Theatre.
Changes in Telecommunications by D.F. Griffiths, B Sc., C.Eng.

The lecturer is attached to the B.T. Research Establishment at Martiesham Heath, Suffolk, and commenced his talk by indicating some of the changes which have taken place over the last 25 years. There was no doubt in his mind that the telecommunications industry particularly in B.T., has been revolutionised, mainly through the following changes:-

1. Politics.
2. Technology
3. Markets and Customers.
4. Organisation and Management.
5. Future prospects.

1. Politics.
(a) Introduction of privatisation in 1985,
(b) More competition generated with the customer getting a better choice. (There are now 50 firms who supply telephones)
(c) New standards being agreed on a world wide basis.
(d) Overseas firms being acquired, so that B.T. can operate competively in a world wide market
(e) A large percentage of profits, after payment of government tax and shareholders dividends are channeled back into Research & Development.

2. Technology.
(a) All PBX’s are being changed from the electro-mechanical system to the latest digital system, demonstrated by the Lecturer.
This results in much clearer voice transmission, improved networks and a minimum space requirement, and are completely silent.
The Monarch systems operating on 100 to 500 lines have been a revelation.
(b) Optical Fibre systems are now being used extensively, and will have a great impact on industry in the future.
(c) 15 satellites are now operated by B.T.
(d) The use of micro-electrics continue to increase.
(e) Data traffic between computers is now a profitable business.

3. Markets & Customers.
(a) There are now in this country 25 million lines, and 85 million calls are made each day.
(b) B.T. are determined to supply the right product at the right price to suit the customers requirements and on time.
(c) Maintenance on equipment continues to improve, with penalties imposed on B.T. for non compliance.
(d) With technology advancing rapidly, it must be tailored to suit the market place.
(e) Under statuary regulations B.T. are required to provide telephones and services for all remote areas.
(f) The sale of cellphones continue to increase.
4. Organisation of Management.
(a) Reduction of staffing levels from 17 to 7, to improve decision making.
(b) 6000 managerial posts lost during the past year. These are included in an overall staff reduction of 18,000.
(c) The early cancellation of research and development on products and equipment when it becomes obvious that they are not a viable proposition.
(d) The maintenance of transport and catering services contracted out.

5. Future Prospects.
(a) Video conference business facilities are being developed further.
(b) The Video telephone now being developed should be available within a year, at a competitive- price.
(c) High Definition Television using network lines is also being persued, this should result in much improved reproduction.
(d) On mobility, personal telephone numbers are now a possibility.
(e) Research is also being carried out on voice being translated when in different languages, at time of transmission.

The lecturer concluded by showing a short video film of how telecommunications could affect everyone in the year 2000. He also mentioned that it was debatable whether we had progress or change, but it could be some of both.
Frank Griffiths