Bill Gates presents a vision of converged IT

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will present his vision of IT/telecoms convergence at this week's ITU Telecom World 2003 conference...

Microsoft chairman Bill Gates will present his vision of IT/telecoms convergence at this week's ITU Telecom World 2003 conference in Geneva.

By building software services over telecoms networks, Gates believes software suppliers, telcos and businesses that operate in this market will be able to offer business and home users a range of new services.

Gates, who coined the term "information at your fingertips" to describe the world wide web, will tell the conference that software breakthroughs and a new generation of communications networks are enabling users to be connected to the information they need throughout the day.

Gates expects a new generation of devices, low-cost servers and software-powered services to provide the infrastructure to allow users to access information from wherever they are.

But Gates' vision faces many obstacles as telecoms operators and software suppliers work out how to generate revenue from converged IT and telecoms.

Bhawani Shankar, an analyst with Gartner, said, "We were supposed to see a convergence of IT and telecoms but what we are seeing is a collision."

According to Shankar, telecoms suppliers are worried that software and services companies could take away potential business. He said, "Telcos are seeing services companies taking business through outsourcing."

Services such as Microsoft MSN are also seen by telcos as a long-term threat, he added

Shankar said this backlash against IT/telecoms convergence was being reflected in the companies exhibiting at Telecom World. He said telecoms firms were suffering and had to justify spending on events such as ITU. "A number of key names are not in attendance - the traditional suppliers, like Lucent and Alcatel, for example," he explained.

In contrast, Microsoft, with Gates giving the launch keynote speech, IBM Global Services, Accenture and SchlumbergerSema were very prominent, reflecting the software industry's ambition to lead IT/telecoms convergence.

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