Bill Owens is President and Chief Executive Officer of Nortel Networks. Previously, Mr Owens was chief executive officer and chairman of Teledesic LLC and President, Chief Operating Officer and Vice-Chairman of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), the US’s largest employee-owned high-technology company. Prior to joining SAIC, Owens was vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the second-ranking military officer in the United States. Mr Owens had responsibility for the re-organisation and re-structuring of the United States armed forces in the post-Cold War era. Previously, Bill Owens served as deputy chief of Naval Operations for Resources, Warfare Requirements and Assessments, commander of the US Sixth Fleet and as senior military assistant to Secretaries of Defense Frank Carlucci and Dick Cheney, the senior military position in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. Mr Owens has written more than 50 articles on national security and authored the book High Seas. Mr Owens latest book, Lifting the Fog of War, was published in April 2000. Bill Owens is a graduate of the US Naval Academy with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. Mr Owens has a bachelor and masters degrees in politics, philosophy and economics from Oxford University and a masters in management from George Washington University. Mr Owens is the founder of Extend America, a five-year state wireless telecommunications venture and also sits on the public boards of Nortel Networks and Daimler Chrysler AG. Mr Owens is the senior advisor to AEA Investors LLC and is a member of several philanthropic boards including the Carnegie Foundation, Brookings Institution and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre. Bill Owens is also a member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives.
The World Bank estimates half the people in the world live on less than $2 a day and telephone service is still a luxury for them. Half of Africa’s 800 million people and 75 per cent of China's 1.3 billion inhabitants have never made a phone call. Converged networks, based on packet technologies, can lower the cost of communications, make it affordable for this population, and revolutionize many aspects of their lives–how they work, learn, receive medical services, travel and entertain.
Connecting people The world is moving faster and change is occurring at a tremendous pace. Communications is an integral part of that change, with its new technologies revolutionising so many aspects of our lives–the way we work, learn, receive medical services, travel and entertain. In short, communications is changing the way we live and this can be as true for emerging markets as it is in more developed parts of the world. While the broad implementation of new technologies, and the new services they make possible, translates into an exciting time for the communications industry, it holds the potential to be an exciting time for emerging regions as well. These new services can have a profound impact, by connecting people and providing new hope for improved standards of living, through education, medical care, commerce and global trade. Yet, for the great promise of communications to be realised, great challenges have to be overcome. The World Bank estimates half the people in the world live on less than $2 a day and telephone service is still a luxury in parts of the world.Half of Africa's estimated 800 million people and 75 per cent of China's 1.3 billion population have never made a phone call. Although China is the world's largest telecommunications market in terms of total subscribers, the number of telephones per 100 people is still relatively low with a large gap between urban and rural services, an inequity that is very common in emerging markets in many parts of the world. At the first World Summit on the Information Society held late last year in Geneva, some 11,000 delegates from more than 175 countries, came together to focus on shaping a global commitment to co-operation among governments, private business and civil society to help bridge the digital divide that separates emerging markets from the more developed countries. Among the long-term objectives confirmed at the summit was to connect all schools, villages, governments and hospitals with information communication technologies (ICTs) by 2015. Work is progressing to the second phase of the summit to be held in Tunis in late 2005 where the agenda will include questions on infrastructure financing, which is a leading concern in many emerging markets. "The power of information and communication technology is removing the boundaries of time and space, which have long kept us apart. But too many people in the world are deprived of access to information and to the tools for accessing it," International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Secretary-General Yoshito Utsumi told the summit. He added: "From trade to telemedicine, from education to environmental protection, we have in our hands, on our desktops…the ability to improve standards of living for millions upon millions of people." To see the transformation of communities, when the power of communications is provided, is empowering, uplifting and inspiring. Connecting people empowers and supports change, enhancing the human experience through new technologies that bring new hope for improvement in all aspects of everyone’s lives. New technologies, new hope The benefits of connecting people through the proliferation of new technologies throughout emerging markets are not in question, but delivering those benefits means lowering the costs for communications is vital. The new converged networks, based on packet technologies, have important implications for emerging regions. There, the proliferation of communication services has often been hampered, not only by high costs of building infrastructure, but by the high costs of services for users on very limited incomes. In the past, traditional networks have relied on separate networks, one to deliver telephone services, others for data. Multiple networks have meant multiples of operating costs; these are now being greatly reduced by converging networks to a single infrastructure. When you have a single network, it is easy and cost effective to deliver reliable and secure high-speed broadband access for voice, data, multimedia or video, either individually or in combination, using multiple devices—phones, computers or handheld PDAs. At the core of these new converged networks that are driving the communications revolution around the world, are packet-based technologies like Internet Protocol (IP) and voice over IP (VoIP). Packet technologies convert any type of information, regardless of whether it is a voice conversation or critical health data like an x-ray, into tiny packets that are sent flying across the network in the same way email or web site information is transmitted. When all information is being transmitted in the same format – packets – a single network can integrate all kinds of services together and make them available for affordable wireline or wireless access, regardless of location, anywhere in the world. With new IP and VoIP packet technologies, country boundaries disappear as telephone calls over the Internet reduce long-distance charges to pennies. Converged networks also mean small 'mom and pop' businesses can subscribe to a full range of communication services that, in the past, were only affordable to larger corporations. They can pay one low monthly fee to have telephone service with inexpensive long-distance calling, fax, e-mail and multimedia capabilities bundled together through one service provider. Lower communication costs help these smaller businesses be competitive if they are looking to compete within their own markets or even internationally. The delivery of reliable and secure high-speed broadband services through ‘packetised’ networks has benefits well beyond business, fundamentally changing the way education and medical services are delivered. Anyone with a computer and Internet connection, even in the most remote regions, now has the opportunity to enroll as a virtual student at some of the best education institutions in the world. These institutions were previously out of reach due to the high cost of relocating to attend on-campus courses. Multimedia applications allow virtual students to attend lectures through videoconference, or collaborate in real time with other students or professors, with instant messaging, or white-boarding, making changes to projects together, simultaneously. For healthcare, new communication technologies are delivering benefits, not only in how care is provided, but also in how and where it is received. Increasingly, medical resources such as digitised patient records can be accessed and shared in real time, regardless of location, allowing a doctor in a small village to collaborate with medical specialists hundreds of kilometres away. Specialist care is no longer restricted only to large cities where demand is highest, but has its reach extended to anyone in need. Moreover, these new applications for business, education, healthcare and person services do not depend upon wireline communications, but can also be delivered wirelessly by new third generation (3G) broadband wireless technologies. Service providers in most developed countries around the world are now implementing 3G networks, making a new era of business and consumer services possible. It is expected that 3G will be implemented in developing parts of the world in the near future. 3G wireless networks are delivering true mobility, anywhere, anytime, through such services as Internet surfing on cell phones, e-mails, video conferencing and financial services. While this high level of service might seem to be out of reach in some emerging markets where even basic telephone service is not yet available, a wireless 3G technology called CDMA 450 - Code Division Multiple Access in the 450 megahertz spectrum - has been proving to be ideal. Because 450 megahertz is a low frequency radio spectrum that allows cost-effective coverage of a broad area, service to rural and remote areas is achieved with fewer base stations. CDMA 450 can provide basic communication services, quickly and cost effectively, in regions where the sparse population cannot support the high cost of laying cable for standard wireline communications. For fixed wireless service, CDMA 450 only requires a small antenna, installed on the roof of a house–in place of expensive cable–to connect the user with the local radio base stations in the area. This results in substantial capital and operational savings that, in turn, translate to low rates for users. The telephone can be used inside the house like any fixed line cordless handset, but has, as well, a limited range outside. CDMA 450 can support a range of services from simple telephone capability to broadband data services such as high-speed access and multimedia capabilities. Additionally, areas that already have very basic first generation wireless capabilities can quickly and affordably move to advanced 3G services by simply adding a card to the network equipment. Communications on its own cannot solve important issues such as world poverty, curing disease or protecting the environment, but it can and must play a powerful catalysing role. This is no pie-in-the-sky, altruistic vision. Communication technologies already form part of today's worldwide foundation for making progress on these and many other global, human condition issues. When people are connected by new technologies, new hope cannot help but follow.