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					Skype:
A Technological Assessment Using STIP Method



EST 440: Interdisciplinary Research Methods
Final project

Katherine Cordero
Paul Ip
Dan Kokkos
Ahmed Langston
Dennis Murphy
                               Index
                                       Page

Abstract                                2

Introduction                            2
       Group Duties                     3
       Schedule                         3
       Technology Assessment            4

Scope                                   5
         Introduction                   5
         What is Skype?                 5
         Organization                   6
         Competition                    7
         Technology                     8

Technology                              9
     VOIP                               9
     History                            9
     Skype Protocol                     10
     Competitors                        11
     Features                           12

Impact                                  13
      Personal / Social                 13
      Economic                          14
      Health / Environment              15
      Labor                             15
      Technical / Commercial            16

Policy                                  17
         Domestic                       17
         Asia                           17
         Europe                         19
         General                        20
         Telecommunications             22

Conclusion                              24
      Problems                          24
      Improvements                      24
      Future Projects                   25

Sources                                 26




                                              1
Abstract
This document is the resulting technology assessment from an EST 440 class. It

uses the STIP Method to analyze Skype. STIP is short for, Scope, Technology,

Impacts, and Policies.    Skype is a peer to peer VOIP (voice over internet

protocol) service. This assessment deals with the history, future, and current

issues with Skype as a technology and how it might be governed in the future as

well as how a this project is designed and could possibly be improved in the

future.



Introduction
This Report is a technological assessment of Skype using the STIP method. The

STIP method analyzes in four major components, Scope, Technology, Impacts,

and Policy. This report is the result of a project in EST 440: Interdisciplinary

Research techniques. The class and report have been designed to draw from

the knowledge and skills learned from previous classes, namely EST 391

(Technology Assessment) and EST 393 (Project Management). This goal of

applying knowledge is accomplished by the way that the project is set up. The

project is divided in to four parts, STIP, and each student is assigned as a project

manager for one part. Their duties are to maintain a schedule, motivate the other

students for that section, and act as a project manager. Each remaining student

will be required to work under the project manager of that section and submit the

necessary work which is assigned to him/her.         As a project manager each

student will use skills and ideas which were learned in EST 393. If there are five

students the remaining student will act as an “understudy” for each project



                                                                                  2
manager. His/Her role is to help where ever possible as well as act as a back up

in the case of a problem where the current project manager can not perform his

duties or meet the need objectives. At the end of the STIP sections the fifth

student will collaborate and form the information in to a coherent report. If there

is no fifth student then the group as a hole will perform those functions of the fifth

student. The main subject of the project is a technological Assessment of a

technology, idea, or theory. Therefore all skills learned for assessment in EST

391 will be used in relevant exercise.

Group Duties
For this project the group consisted of five students, four of which were assigned

part of the STIP and one the understudy / collaborator.

       Dan Kokkos:                 Scope

       Ahmed Langston:             Technology

       Katherine Cordero:          Impact

       Paul Ip:                    Policy

       Dennis Murphy:              Understudy / Collaboration

When a student was not an acting project manager he/she was required to

submit an assigned part of each STIP component.

Schedule
The project teams met at least once a week, usually two times. These meetings

were to discuss progress on the schedule as well as assign duties for the next

phase.   The schedule was broken down in to the phases of STIP, Scope,

technology, Impact, and technology. Each phase was given about a week and a




                                                                                    3
half to two weeks from assignment to deadline.     This allowed each project

manager to delegate duties and oversee that they were completed on time.

Technology Assessment
The full assessment is broken down in to each STIP component and each

component is broken down further in to five sub-headings. This was formed so

that each student will have a part in each component giving them a better

overview of the whole project.




                                                                           4
Scope
Introduction
The technology that is being described in this assessment of scope is a Voice

Over Internet protocol called Skype. This assessment is looking into the radius

of the Scope, Technology, Impact, and Policy. In this report, we will be looking at

the scope of the technology.         During this assessment of scope we will

understand some of the history and background of this new and upcoming

technology.   We will be starting off by identifying exactly what Skype is and

defining what this software service does.       Second we will be looking at the

organization of the product and how it was incorporated. After we look at the

organization, we will be looking at the different types of competition. And fourth

we will look at the technology and how it all works. By defining and

understanding the importance of scope we can then understand the aspects of

the technological development.

What is Skype
In our assessment of the Scope we have come to understand what this

technology is and what service this product is conveying to society. Skype is a

peer to peer internet phone service application. This service is free over the

internet Skype website.      This service is easy to install and extremely user

friendly. This was designed by the same makers of Kazaa, a similar peer to peer

file sharing network that is used for sharing mostly audio and video but not

limited to text, pictures and applications. The only thing required for installation is

a microphone and speakers on your personal computer. Once installed users

can access another service of Skype called Skype Out. This allows people to

use the computer to dial out to existing telecommunication POTS lines. The fee


                                                                                     5
is very minimal to use this service. The cost to call through the telephone lines is

about two cents a minuet. Skype Users can also use the Skype in service; this

allows them to have 10 pre-chosen numbers that allows for incoming calls. The

Skype In service also has a built in voicemail feature will allow the caller to leave

a voice message. Skype Voicemail then saves the voicemail message for the

Skype user to retrieve at his or her convenience. The Skype voicemail is saved

permanently for them to access whenever, wherever they want. Another service

they offer is Skype for the pocket PC, and Email access. The technology is

convenient for the average pc user to make phone calls around the world at a

very affordable price.

Organization
The Organization was started by CEO Nicklas Zenstrom and cofounder Janus

Friis. The organization was founded in Luxemburg; however the company has

offices in London, England and Tallinn, Estonia. Skype has over 50 million

members in over 200 countries. They have over a 100,000 users accessing the

service per day and the numbers are rising by the day. The Skype organization is

partnering with multiple different companies so that they can continue to bring

you a fast secure and reliable network. As recently as April 2006, EBay has

purchased the organization. This is going to allow the Skype organization to

utilize their time and increase their overall productivity. In the long term of this,

the effect will be increase profits and more reliability. Another outcome of this is

more competition for the business world. Recently Skype has partnered with

companies such as Motorola, Logitech, and siemens to bring you the hardware

solutions you need to make a call with their services. Skype is the leading global


                                                                                   6
Internet communications business. Because Skype is not limited to geographic

regions they can help communications throughout the global community. Skype’s

brand and the Skype trademark have robust brand recognition. All the partners

can benefit from a positive alliance and helps to increase global recognition. All

together the company wants to offer free global communication. Not only do they

want to offer free telephone service but they also want to supply the best, most

secure network available. Their mission is “providing a simple, reliable and

friendly communications tool that just works”.

Competition
With good service, comes good competition.           Skype has many different

competitors that offer a number of quality services and support that Skype offers.

Verizon, Bell South, and SBC communications all are telephone companies that

offer inexpensive traditional phone service. They may be the old kid on the block

but the one thing they are offering over all the other companies is a trusted

name. And their infrastructure is already installed and working. Voice Over IP is

the other competition that is out their for telecommunications. The Companies on

this range of service are Vonage, packet 8, Verizon, AT&T, Comcast, Time

Warner cable, and speakeasy. They are trying to compete with the new type of

technology that Skype offers. As we see voice over IP move forward we are

going to see more and more companies moving their technology platforms to

VOIP. Optimum Online is offering VOIP as a part of their business services. The

triple play package from cablevision offers voice IP service. They all rely on the

customers ISP’s infrastructure to connect to users which minimizes their

overhead and allows them to have cheaper prices for their services. The point


                                                                                7
here is, unless these companies start offering VOIP all the tradition

communications companies are going to become less then what the competition

holds.

Technology
So, you may start to wonder, what makes this all work? Well, this service is a

peer to peer VOIP telephone service. This means that the average computer

user can make phone calls from his/her pc. The Voice Over Internet Protocol

transfers voice sound waves into data and sends it to another node on the peer

to peer network. This secures a connection from two computers and allows them

to talk with the free software. Also, this technology access standard POTS lines

and allows the user to connect to the traditional telephone line with their Skype

Out service. Skype works behind most firewall software and gateways without

jeopardizing the user’s privacy. Skype calls are encrypted for your security.

Internet telephone service is in the beginning stages of development Skype will

lead the groundbreaking movement into the 21st century.

Skype has won awards from PC World as one of the best 100 Best Products of

2005, and also Web User for "Best Innovation" Award of 2005. Skype also has

one the Digital Lifestyle Award 2005 for Personal Communications. Skype is

becoming the norm around the world for affordable internet phone service and

will continue to set standards in the telecommunications world.




                                                                               8
Technology
VOIP
VOIP stands for Voice over internet protocol and has other names such as digital

phone and internet telephony. It’s used to characterize any form of voice data

being sent using the internet protocol. There are numerous protocols that fall

under the umbrella of VOIP. These protocols include Skype’s proprietary

protocol, session initiation protocol, and H.323. The latter two are open source

protocols to be used freely by others. SIP was designed to be used for any user

interaction involving voice, video, or text. The H.323 protocol was designed for

audio and video communications and is used in programs such as net meeting.

History of VOIP
VOIP was started in 1995 from some Israeli hobbyists.           At that time only

computer to computer communication was available. In late 1995 Vocaltec

released internet phone software which was able to be run on a home computer

which had a sound card, speakers, microphone, and modem.              The largest

problem for VOIP in 1995 and the early years of its development was the lack of

broadband access. Most people and companies used dial up access, this lead to

low quality and latency in the calls. VOIP started to take a market share as

broadband became more widely used and the technology developed. By 1998

VOIP traffic was 1% of all voice traffic in the United States. That year Lucent and

Cisco started producing equipment that could route and switch the VOIP traffic

and by 2000 VOIP accounted for 3% of the total voice traffic in the United States.

Since 2000 broadband use has become the standard; static and latency have

become a thing of the past. There are numerous companies who are embracing

this not so new and emerging technology and offering full telephony services


                                                                                 9
based on VOIP. VOIP has entered the mainstream and is planed to overtake

and phase out traditional telephone service.

Protocol
Skype uses a proprietary protocol for it communications. Unlike the other open

source VOIP protocols like SIP and H.232 which are based on the client-server

model. The client-server model has all voice traffic between clients routed to a

centralized server which then routes the data to the appropriate user. While that

is effective for a few users it is not advisable for millions of users being that the

infrastructure to handle that many users would need to be maintained and

upgraded as the number of users increase. Skype’s proprietary protocol is based

on a peer to peer model. This decentralized user network infrastructure is easily

scalable to larger sizes without degradation in performance or quality. The

protocol routes user’s calls straight to the same user he or she is trying to

contact. If the user is behind a firewall or NAT the call is routed through other

skype users to reach the user behind the firewall. All calls are encrypted when

being sent, to secure the call while passing though other users connection and

prevent eavesdropping.

There are issues with this proprietary protocol though. Since a proprietary

protocol outside users and developer don’t have direct access to the code. The

code is accessed with limited ability though the Skype application program

interfaces (API). The API doesn’t allow for security concerns about the protocol

to be addressed or evaluated. Security is a major issue seeing as how your calls

are routed through others connections sometime leading to security holes with

unauthorized listening of calls. Another issue with the protocol is that since it


                                                                                  10
uses a peer to peer model it puts a bandwidth burden on the users to transfer

calls through. Certain users with large amounts of available bandwidth can

become super nodes. These super nodes can cause network congestion for

other non Skype users on the super node’s network. Bandwidth is limited and

can quickly be consumed by many users’ calls being routed through a particular

client node causing congestion for that user.

Competitors
The competing technologies against Skype’s VOIP technology are essentially the

same backend technology. The difference is that the cable companies and

telephone companies have their own high speed networks to handle their traffic.

Vonage uses the open source protocol known as Session Initiation Protocol

(SIP). Since SIP calls for the use of a proxy server in the infrastructure it is not

truly peer to peer like Skype’s protocol. Similarly to Skype’s technology is that it

relies on the end users broadband connection. They have no control over the

traffic to and from the end user. Vonage also requires the use of a SIP enabled

router to connect your home phones and broadband connection. The Telco’s

such as Verizon and Cable companies such as Time Warner’s VOIP service is

run through their networks from user to their servers. The VOIP traffic is given

priority on their network due to its time sensitive data. Also both Verizon and

Time Warner Cable offer this service as part of a triple package of internet and

cable over their fiber optics network. This gives them an advantage in that Skype

could potentially be using their network and be filtered from functioning as

effectively as their competing service. Another key factor in favor of those

companies that manage there own networks is reliability. They can be directly


                                                                                 11
called upon when you’re having service issues were as Skype can not help you

with problems resulting from your broadband connection.

Features
The basic Skype program itself offers the ability to talk to users of Skype

worldwide for free. Skype’s only requirement is a computer and a broadband

connection which are almost synonymous. If you have a broadband connection

you obviously have a computer to use it. The extra premium services are known

as SkypeOut, SkypeIn, and Skype-Voicemail. SkypeOut allows for Skype users

to call home and cell phone numbers          at extremely low prices that the

telecommunication and cable companies cannot match because they have

infrastructure costs which are passed on to the end user. SkypeIn offers the

ability to allow Skype to act as a real phone allowing anyone to call your “Skype

number” and be answered in Skype. Skype-Voicemail is a voice mail service for

people calling you to leave a message whiles you are offline or busy. A new beta

feature of Skype is videoconferencing with other Skype users. Skype however

cannot be an all in one replacement to a normal phone because it does not allow

you to dial emergency numbers. This is because your number can be anywhere

on the planet therefore Skype would not know where to route the emergency call.

Therefore Skype is more of a supplementary service to normal phone service

through traditional means. Skype’s major feature is its quality. Even with its

reliance on the end users connection it has clear voice conversation with users

around the world that is clear with little delay. This is a result of there custom

protocol designed for Skype users only.




                                                                               12
Impact
Personal/social
We are now beginning to understand what kinds of implications are being

brought about from becoming social machines. Whether we like it or not we are

becoming more and more involved in using the computer to solve most of our

everyday tasks. For example, we can say that more people are starting to shop

online to avoid the lines and people at the stores. In addition, although we get

annoyed with the lines and the rude and crude people, it is what we need as

human beings. The absence can bring on bigger problems in the longer term.

Another thing to thing about is when people are in a public place, even today,

you can see them talking on the cell phones in public places with loved ones in

front of them. You see couples walking hand in hand, each communicating to

other people with their cell phones.

Broadband communication or VoIP facilitates the exchange of large amounts of

data, instant messaging, feedback, attached text, picture, and voice. Users can

go from sending short, simple text messages to posting and sending political

policy, images, graphics, audio, and videos. This will slowly start affect the way

we meet. A half a century ago, we needed to fly halfway across the world to sign

important documents. Today it’s as easy as a click of the mouse.

Using Skype, internet phone service, can also bring about positive change.

Skype brings an affordable, highly accessible service to your pc.        You can

access phone service literally anywhere you want to.        Today, we can find

computers in many different places that allow us to use the internet telephone. It

is making life easier since we are starting to rely on our computers more often



                                                                               13
every day.    It is also becoming the center of communication of adolescent

interaction. Skype is showing us positive effects in allowing us another way of

communication and continues to allow the world to get smaller and smaller. No

today, we can use Skype to talk to people from all over the world within seconds

and for fractions of the cost. It is allowing the diverse world we live in to become

closer than we used to. It is a bit of contrast with our negative effects. We are

pushing the people close to us out and now making communication with those far

away even more accessible.

Economic
With the advent of Skype’s revolutionary VoIP service, the VoIP industry, as well

as the telecommunications industry in general, is facing a drastic restructuring of

the business models that’s been employed by the companies since the inception

of the telecommunications era. Provided as a free download via their homepage,

Skype operates under a slight departure of the “razor & razor blades” business

model pioneered by Gillette. The free application has been downloaded up to 10

million times, offering crystal clear VoIP calls gratis to all of Skype’s users.

Skype’s revenue comes from the percentage of Skype’s users who have opted to

upgrade to Skype’s paid premium service, which enables them value added

functionality such as the ability to dial out to regular phone numbers, being able

to receive calls from regular phones, as well as internet voicemail box, etc.

Surprisingly, Skype is actually grossing a significantly large profit from the close

to 1 million upgraded users.

In addition, Skype has its sights on the cellular market. Skype enabled mobile

handsets are beginning to become commercially available for purchase, offering


                                                                                   14
the same VoIP service, without limiting the user to physically be next to a

computer.

Environmental / health
Skype has no major impact on the environment or health. Skype will not make

the air that you breathe cleaner and it will not make you live longer. Skype does

have secondary minor impacts on the environment however. By using Skype,

the consumer is using their computer for another task and is justifying the cost of

a computer and access.

The use of Skype allows the computer to absorb the functions of the normal

telephone.   With no need for a normal telephone, there is no need for a

telephone to be produced and purchased, and in turn disposed of, so as a

distance secondary impact of the use of Skype is reducing the waste from a

modern lifestyle.   A tertiary impact of Skype is that the increased use of a

computer will use more electricity then the same use of a normal telephone that

would be used for the action that Skype is replacing. This additional power draw

means that more power needs to be produced, thus possibly increasing pollution;

this is a negative impact from Skype. Over all, Skype has no major impacts on

the environment or health but it does however have secondary and tertiary

impacts, which are both good and bad.

Labor
It seems to be that more than twenty-five percent of the non-farm jobs lost in the

United States over the last few years were in the telecom services and

equipment sector. Labor costs are reduced with the self-installation of VoIP,

which also includes Skype. With the ability of VoIP service, there would be many



                                                                                15
home-based agents, which would dramatic decrease the cost of labor. Labor

standards could change due to the emergence of VoIP. The cost of on site labor

time can now be drastically reduced with the use of VoIP due to the mobility of

Skype. VoIP allows for the managing of a single, corporate data network for the

all the customer communication needs of a company which permits the reduction

of labor.

Technical / Commercial
Skype has technical and commercial impacts, which can be either beneficial or

disadvantageous. Skype allows companies to save over regular phone service,

which is a very valuable resource. It also allows companies to fully utilize the

data bandwidth, which is supplied by internet connection.

As with any technology, Skype has a few disadvantages. It requires a lot of

upload bandwidth for DSL customers that have limited upload bandwidth in the

range of 128 Kbps.     If many users sign up for Skype, it could lead to the

bandwidth being flooded. Skype is currently limited to computers with online and

broadband connections. As of right now, there is no standalone package offered

by Skype like there is from Vonage.

Within Skype, the security of calls sent across internet cannot be guaranteed.

Unfortunately, data packets that are sent across net can be viewed by anyone.

Skype protocol is proprietary therefore; no thorough analysis of the security can

be made. There are questions that are being raised of how government will be

able to tap a Skype conversation with a warrant.       Since Skype protocol is

proprietary, no comprehensive analysis of the security can be made.




                                                                              16
Policy
Domestic
Only recently has the United States government directed its attention to the

domestic usage and applications of VoIP services. The FCC has established a

forum with the goal of gathering information about VoIP’s applications in mind. A

recent FCC ruling mandates that VoIP services must have in place a functioning

911 service in order to continue their operations within the United States. The

ruling also required that all United States VoIP providers provide their customers

a way to update their location, if needed or their current location. Continued

research must be carried out in order for the FCC to correctly impose regulations

upon Skype and other VoIP services that operate domestically.

Asian
Unlike the domestic VoIP regulations, VoIP operators are under much more

stringent scrutiny in Asia. In China, the state-run China Telecom is working

towards a government-endorsed ban on calls made through VoIP services,

including Skype. The rationale behind this move is a result from a decline in

revenue for their fixed-line POTS-based telephone service, as more and more

people are discovering the cheap alternatives offered by VoIP services. China

Telecom also plans to prevent users in China from accessing Skype’s servers

and monitoring and limiting the volume of data in efforts to disconnect any VoIP

calls. To counter this, Skype and TOM Online Inc., the largest Chinese Internet

provider based in Hong Kong, are in negotiations to establish a partnership to

facilitate their penetration of Skype’s VoIP telephone service successfully while

meeting government regulations.




                                                                               17
In other parts of Asia, telecommunication services tend to be deregulated. These

deregulations have sparked consumers to look into VoIP services as economical

alternatives to conventional telephone services. In Singapore, VoIP services

have become a major contender in the telecommunications market, resulting in

fixed-line operators lowering their service fees in order to stay competitive. In

Hong Kong, telecommunication companies have had to introduce VoIP capable

3G mobile phones as a means to incorporate and adopt VoIP rather than

compete with it, which would ultimately lead to an increased loss of revenue. In

Japan, home to Asia’s most advanced telecommunications market, the number

of VoIP service subscribers has increased from 2003’s 3.1 million to 8.3 million

during the 1st Quarter of this fiscal year.



By embracing VoIP, as some Asian

countries have already done so with

the benefit of foresight, conventional

telecommunications corporations will

be able to expand on the current

market and improve service quality.

When this adoption is carried out,

they will be able to once again

attract   consumers    or   “re-attract”

former customers to use their telecommunication services, just as smaller,

independent VoIP startups has done.




                                                                              18
European
The telecommunications policy in Europe is very similar than all of our

Telecommunications policy in the United States. The different subtleties are what

separate Europe from the US. The eEurope 2005 action plan was introduced at

the Seville in June of 2002. It had the approval of the council of ministers in 2003.

The entire goal of the project is to develop telecommunications services through

use of broadband technologies. This is the time of competitive pricing and a

tough information infrastructure. The European Union seems to be embracing the

fact that technology is exploding around us. Europe is taking the initiative to

update all their technology. They are going to look for fast and visible results so

that they can see what the market has to offer. Growth and investment are highly

supported. The European Union understands that this enterprise is going to

create jobs and secure their economic future. Their current action plan has

ended this year.

Europe has an enlightened telecommunications policy. Although their policy is

very open and renaissance, they are also looking at all of the risks and securities

in a very conservative manor. They are conducting a round table of events that

will include many of the experts in each different field. This approach is allowing

the management to understand the risk of information security. They are using

risk management in co-operation with different partners in several European

countries. Aside from the general roundtables, the experts are exchanging tactics

that individual companies can take to manage their local risks. In other words,

the European telecommunications policy is much like a business; they are

looking at all different ways to make a profit for the economy.


                                                                                  19
During 2006 the commission will propose a strategy for secure information

society. Some of the ideas are going to include raising self-awareness for

monitoring personal security, how to respond and ways to reach out for support.

They are going to modernize their old policies so that all of the content rich

information can make its way to society in the modern ways of audiovisual

societies.

European policy also includes Information and communication technologies (ITC)

research. They are finding ways to promote all of the emerging technologies.

Europe wants to use the R+ D to promote telecom and create more businesses

that lead to more jobs. This will satisfy the short term and the long-term aspects

of the Sectored economy. The EU is a leader in global telecommunications. They

make up 40-50 % of the worlds largest players. Like the US, Europe wants a

safe, secure, and reliable range of networks and services so that the economies

can flourish.

General
In general, advocacy groups such as the Voice On the Net (VON) Coalition,

whose members include different VoIP service providers and their partners, play

an important role in the creation of VoIP regulatory policies. VON, founded in

1996 by Jeff Pulver, consists of the following member companies: Acceris,

AccessLine, AT&T, BMX, BT Americas, CallSmart, Convedia, Covad, Earthlink,

IceNet, iBasis, Intel, Intrado, Level 3, MCI, Microsoft, MobilePro, Multi-Link, New

Global Telecom, PointOne, Pulver.com, Skype, T-Mobile USA, Teleglobe, Texas

Instruments, USA Datanet, VocalData, and Voiceglo. Having secured an

influential position with policymakers, VON aims to educate members on


                                                                                20
business strategies, as well as positively impacting the institution of regulatory

decisions. VON has successfully deterred the FCC’s effort to characterize VoIP

as a basic service, preventing the imposition of compulsory access charges.

CompTel/Ascent, another industry association similar in nature to VON,

represents communications service providers and their supplier partners.

Regulatory decisions regarding VoIP must be clearly articulated and must be

easily applicable to all network configurations that capacitates traffic over VoIP.

While the main goal of government regulation should be to foster, rather than to

constrain, the adoption of innovative applications such as VoIP services, an

equally important secondary objective is to ensure that the necessary regulations

be clearly laid out and communicated to service providers. This ensures the

proper implementation of technologies across all network architectures by

service providers and warrants impartially enforceability by regulators or co-

carriers.

Contrary to popular misconception, VoIP is not a telecommunications service, but

rather an IP-based application. As such, VoIP services are classified as an

information service. When used as a substitute to traditional telecommunications

service, issues such as E911 (previously mentioned in the Domestic Policies

section) must be resolved through industry cooperation with support from both

state and federal government agencies. Measures must be taken to address the

need for and the interests of national security, and should be carried out

independent of the      economic aspects of the VoIP industry, and in a manner

which requires no additional regulatory reclassification.




                                                                                21
Telecomunications
In today’s modern world the telecommunications industry is growing at an

alarming rate. It is predicted to grow for at least the next ten years. This growth

will not only be domestic but international. The global telecommunications

industry is on the verge of exponential growth. This exploding industry needs

guidance and direction. If there is no form of guidance then the industry’s great

potential for growth will be potential for disaster and implosion.



Once the United States congress passed the telecommunications act of 1996,

which was an overhaul of a previous telecommunications act in 1936, a new

                                                           digital era was entered.

                                                           Due to new technology

                                                           and the convergence of

                                                           existing   technologies

                                                           congress saw the need

                                                           to regulate and define

                                                           guidelines. These new

                                                           guidelines were set in

place to promote competition while still accelerating development of new

technologies. This act also helped set up guidelines for “open” technology.

“Open” technology is ideas and technology that can be universally applied with

out much proprietary software or hardware. Open technology helps unite and

strength the industry. The next year, 1997, the WTO (World trade organization)

followed suit and passed a similar telecommunications legislation. The governing


                                                                                22
body for telecommunications in the United States is the FCC. They are the ones

who regulate, place guidelines and standards to witch the domestic industry are

to conform to.



In this new digital age telecommunications policy will shape the ever-digitizing

world around us. Policy should commit to nurture development, encourage

competition, and place the power in the hands of the consumer. The

telecommunications industry is about to explode with the newly developed and

convergence         of

existing

technologies       and

the only way is to

“lead, follow, or get

out of the way”.




                                                                             23
Conclusion
The total result of the project was to give students an exercise in using skills and

knowledge learned in EST 391 and 393, as well as prepare them for 441:

Interdisciplinary Senior Project.   In 441 each student will create their own

technology assessment using STIP. This project gives students a solid

foundation to work from when designing and implementing their senior project.

Problems
During the course of the project a few problems arose and were dealt with as

necessary fro resolution. The most major problem was that of scheduling. It was

hard to coordinate every one in one place when needed as well as when the

deadlines for work were. These problems were solved by working with the

present students and using e-mail and phone calls to disseminate the

information,   assignments,   and   schedules.      There    were   a   few   minor

miscommunications that happened during the project. These were resolved and

absorbed in to the week and half to two weeks allotted for each phase.

Improvements
As with any Major undergoing or project there are ways to improve a design no

matter how good the original is. In the case of this project the largest problems

were scheduling and communications. In the future a stricter schedule of work

could be implemented with penalties for not meeting a deadline. This would give

the project more of a real world feel. Also minuets for each meeting could be

distributed thru e-mail for better explanation and understanding of goals and

expectations. Over all this project had little which needed improvement.




                                                                                 24
Future projects
New technology is being created every moment of every day; therefore there are

an infinite number of future project options. Some plausible topics could be: GPS

(geo-location and navigation), RFID, HDTV vs. NTSC, Streaming Video and

enhanced content on cell phones. There are many possibilities of topics. The

selection would depend on the group which is undergoing the project and their

interest. A topic should be chosen which all members of the group have at least

a small interest in learning about so moral and motivation are kept high with

minimal boosting needed.




                                                                              25
                              Sources


Skype. Skype, the whole world can talk for free. Skype technologies
SC. November 21st 2005. <Skype.com>

PC World. Skype Launches Premium Services. John Blau. April 18,
2005. <http://www.pcworld.com/reviews/article/0,aid,120481,00.asp>

Wikipedia. Wikipedia.com. Skype.
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skype>

Educause. Connect.educause.edu. Using Skype for Teaching and
Learning. Catherine. June 22nd, 2005.
<http://connect.educause.edu/taxonomy/term/536>

Queens Media Lab Blog. HML Blog. Skype, February 8th 2004. Doug.
<http://www.hml.queensu.ca/blog/archives/2004_02.html>




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