NRI Papers
No.117 May 1 , 2007
  Toward the Convergence of Communications and Broadcasting from the Consumer Perspective  
Noritaka KOBAYASHI,
Satoshi AWAMURA and Tomoyoshi KUZUSHIMA
   Communications and broadcasting have until now developed separately, but the development of new technologies and system reforms are erasing the lines of demarcation that previously defined the two. As a result, it is now possible to provide various combinations of content, platforms, infrastructures and terminal equipment, which are the elements that comprise communications and broadcasting. In 2006, the discussion of "integration" of communications and broadcasting has at last taken on a practical air of reality.
   The number of households subscribing to fixed-line broadband has surpassed 20 million while the number of 3G mobile telephone subscribers has soared to over 50 million. Therefore, the environment for receiving the transmission of terrestrial digital broadcasting is also being prepared in anticipation of the phasing out of analog broadcasting in 2011. At the same time, reforms in legal systems where various issues involving the convergence of communications and broadcasting must be resolved are gradually moving ahead. In this way, an environment to support this change is being established smoothly.
   As the environment is in place, One Seg (digital broadcasting service to mobile terminals named for "one segment" of the 13 segments of the spectrum allocated to terrestrial digital television broadcasting) and TV portals (portals that link consumers to various Web sites through their television sets) are beginning to appear as promising convergent services between communications and broadcasting. However, a profitable and viable business model for the relevant service providers has yet to be established, and the existence of barriers preventing the widespread availability of convergent services is also becoming evident.
    In the movement toward the convergence of communications and broadcasting, five issues exist: (1) the improvement of broadcasting infrastructures to accommodate One Seg, (2) resolution of regional disparities in communications infrastructures, (3) the prompt revision of legal systems, (4) gaining an accurate understanding of users' needs and (5) establishment of business models.
    It is hoped that the early resolution of these issues will result in the realization of convergence from the consumer perspective.
Contents
I Meaning of the Convergence of Communications and Broadcasting
II Recent Trends in the Areas of Communications and Broadcasting
III The Meeting Point of Communications and Broadcasting
IV The Convergence of Communications and Broadcasting from the Consumer Perspective

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