Convergence of technologies has drastically changed the way that Americans communicate and how they access goods, services, and information. Consumers can use a single device to talk to friends, edit and send work documents, pay bills, read the news, watch videos, and listen to music. Convergence also allows consumers to obtain service for those functions from many sources. In this way, convergence has blurred the bright lines dividing formerly compartmentalized industries. For example, consumers can get phone service from Internet companies, video programming from phone companies, and Internet services from cable television companies. Consumers can benefit enormously from the convenience and choices, but convergence also presents many consumer protection challenges. Some of these include the privacy and identity theft concerns raised by storing sensitive personal information in one do-it-all device, and the ease with which fraudsters may attack consumers. At the hearings, the Commission asked panelists to explore both the benefits and challenges presented by convergence.
This topic was considered during the following panels:
See the Tech-ade Agenda for more information on these panels and for links to the panelists’ presentations.
- Voice over Internet Protocol or “VoIP”: VoIP is the transmission of voice communication over the Internet or another IP-based network. It allows consumers to make and receive telephone calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a phone line.
Other related materials
Anticipating the Tech-ade Hearings: Convergence of Media, November 2, 2006
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