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COMPUTING

Telecom '99: Compaq CEO predicts computing's future

October 12, 1999
Web posted at: 10:14 a.m. EDT (1414 GMT)

by Jana Sanchez

From...
Network World Fusion

(IDG) -- In the information age of the near future, we will be computing and communicating simultaneously from devices we currently would not even recognize as computers, said Compaq's President and CEO Michael Capellas.

Speaking at a panel discussion about the information age at the Telecom '99 exhibition, Capellas shared his vision of a future in which computing and telecommunications merge to become one.

"It's not about us finding a network, it's about the network finding us," Capellas said. He predicts that people will expect to be connected anywhere and all the time. Telecommunications and computing will be blended together to the point they are indistinguishable.
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Capellas said one possible device for such continuous computing would be similar to today's mobile phone with extra buttons for nontelephony functionality. Such products will be made in mass quantities and will be easy for the makers to roll out.

In next-generation computing, intelligent devices will control service on the network, and bandwidth -- once a profit center for telecom carriers -- will become a commodity, Capellas said. Demanding customers will expect reliability and increased capacity, but we are not really there yet.

Knowledge about a company's customers will be an important asset that will allow businesses to cross-sell and up-sell products and services, Capellas said. Because of the vast amount of personal information companies will hold on individuals, storage will be a challenge. The security of that information will also be an important responsibility, he said.

Capellas did not, however, have an answer about how to safeguard individual privacy rights in a world where any company can predict what he or she might buy because they know the customer so well. "We will have to have some form of international standards," Capellas suggested.

Making a few forecasts about the information age, Capellas predicts that at least 60% of all calls will be made on wireless phones within five years and within 10 years, half of all retail sales will be made online.



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