The year the world changed

It might smack of sensationalism to say that telecommunications turned the world on its head this year, but you have to admit that the impact was more pronounced than it ever has been before.

Think about what changed this year: riots and civil unrest swept the world, facilitated by social networks and the widespread availability of smartphones. What impact will this have on the role of democracy in society?

Healthcare could be next to see a massive shift, but the industry needs to undergo significant changes in the way it operates if it is to realise the benefits.

The same issue applies to every industry, of course — the internet changes the way that things are done. The media is a prime example, with conventional business models becoming irrelevant, and no clear vision of what form the future will take.

The growth of video, in particular, has been monumental. We heard on Twisted Wire how 30 per cent of peak-time internet traffic in the US comes from one site — Netflix. This demonstrates how quickly the shift in power can happen. It also raises the question about net neutrality — could we see partnerships formed between content providers and network operators that challenge the independence of the internet?

Video was also at the heart of the debate between AFACT and iiNet. If the Hollywood movie studios win this important test case, it will forever change the interplay between content and networks. Net neutrality could be the casualty.

In this edition of Twisted Wire, we look back at the last year — a year of monumental change. We explore the industry’s impact on society, as well as changes within the industry itself. It was a year of record complaints to the TIO, with severe damage to the Vodafone reputation and a land grab by Telstra to bring on hundreds of thousands of new mobile customers.

First published on ZDNet

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