Living, Learning, Working and Playing in the Digital Age


We live in a Digital Age. Access to the Internet is now seen by most governments as a basic right for citizens, just like education. In 2009, France went further by declaring that access to the Internet is a basic human right in the country. Every person, regardless of age, gender, income or location, has the right to access the web and everything it offers. Broadband Internet penetration is growing fast and bandwidth speed is increasing even faster thanks to mobile and optic fiber technologies fueling adoption and utilization of video. This is a technology which both governments and businesses should not neglect when considering offering services and products to citizens who are consumers at the same time.

War of the Worlds: Developed vs. Developing

According to ITU statistics, there were almost 3 billion Internet users by the end of 2014, two-thirds of them coming from the developing world. This means that more than 44 percent of the world’s households now have Internet access. Close to one-third (31 percent) of households in developing countries will be connected to the Internet, compared with 78 percent in developed countries.

Almost every nation in the world has invested or is looking at investing in building a National Broadband Network (NBN) which is a key building block to delivering the country’s sustainable development strategy and an important factor in helping to drive the digital economy. The BRIC block in particular (Brazil, Russia, India and China) pushes the high speed Internet agenda to compete against developed nations, and because it contributes to:

  • Consumer welfare
  • Civic participation
  • Community development
  • Healthcare delivery
  • Education
  • Public safety
  • Entrepreneurial activity
  • Job creation
  • Worker training
  • Economic growth
  • Private sector investment
  • And many other national purposes

To date, Japan, Korea and Singapore have already connected more than 95 percent of households at 100 Mbps while the U.K. and Australia will reach 90 percent penetration by 2017. In the U.S., the plan is to have 73 percent of households connected at the same speed by 2020 and have universal Internet access of at least 4 Mbps by then. High speed Internet networks enable people to enjoy the next-generation of life-like applications and services on tablets, smartphones and computers from the comfort of their home. For instance, high definition video streaming and conferencing technologies are now widely available from the cloud and accessible from any device.

Internet Connectivity and Speed are Not Enough

While Internet access and bandwidth speed are a must to connect citizens, businesses and agencies, it is not enough of a draw for people to use the various services offered by governments and businesses. Similar to the mobile handset market, user applications and content will drive the adoption and utilization of various e-services. New technologies such as enterprise-grade videoconferencing and video streaming solutions are creating the workplace of the future by changing the way people live, learn, work and play while keeping the human element. Why not connect over high quality video and have a conversation face-to-face?

Video streaming and conferencing are widely available and culturally accepted technologies around the world today. YouTube reports that more than 6 billion hours of video are watched each month, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute and that 80 percent of their traffic comes from outside the U.S. The same boom is happening for video calling. According to Werner Goertz, research director at Gartner, “Video calling is a mass market and mainstream activity on smartphones in the US, with 34.6 percent adult smartphone user adoption. Other markets will follow that path, depending on local constraints.” 

Image via Shutterstock

High-definition video, audio, and content conferencing and streaming solutions enable Public Sector agencies and companies to have face-to-face interactions with individuals or groups regardless of distance. Many organizations have already embraced such video applications for connected business to improve operations and services delivery. This is the case of healthcare with telemedicine. In this video, you can see how live videoconferencing improves discharge planning, medication management and population health. This is just one of the many ways organizations can leverage visual communications technologies.

Over the Top “Real-Life” Video Applications

Video streaming (asynchronous) and videoconferencing (synchronous) solutions made available to consumers will help boost the adoption of national broadband networks, the consumption of content and adoption of services. From my experience, here are some of the most popular applications of technologies used and adopted around the world that have the greatest impact on people’s lives:

  1. Teleservices: Connecting face-to-face over video to offer customer service or support is now easy thanks to cloud and browser-based video solutions available on any tablet, smartphone or computer.
  2. Telework: Enabling remote employees or mobile employees to use video collaboration when working from home or on the go, including contact center agents, allows them to stay engaged and connected.
  3. Telehealth: Remotely monitoring and delivering medical care to patients at home using video streaming and collaboration supports prevention and wellness as well as discharge planning programs.
  4. Telejustice: Making your way to court or jail may not be required when video communications allow you to make testimonies, attend hearings, join visitation sessions, or report remotely.
  5. Tele-education: Attending a flipped class, going on a virtual field trip, playing back lectures on demand or connecting with other students to collaborate on a school project is just a click away.
  6. Teleconferencing: Meeting with multiple suppliers and partners to solve quality or supply chain issues is no longer limited to your own office environment or network with standards-based video solutions.
  7. Teleperformances: Attending and taking part of musical, cultural and artistic performances live from your living room has become as real as being there. Great audio quality will be essential if you do so.
  8. Telementoring: Coaching and mentoring people for professional development or continuing education can be done thanks to videoconferencing from any location, industry or time zone.

High speed Internet access can improve the way governments and companies serve, protect and operate only if life-like and life-changing applications, such as visual communications, are made available to and developed for citizens, businesses and public sector agencies. The success of both wired and wireless broadband initiatives can only be possible thanks to a strong collaboration between government departments, service providers and leading solution providers with various industry expertise and knowledge. Together, we can truly transform the way people live, learn, work and play in the digital age regardless of age, gender, class, or community.

Considering surfing the broadband Internet wave with video. Because this is the only way to defy distance and reduce the digital divide. Let’s start making real connections, face-to-face!

About the Author: Marc-Alexis Rémond is Global Senior Director, Industry Solutions & Market Development at Polycom. He heads up a team that assists industries, including manufacturing, healthcare and financial services, to transform the way they innovate, operate and serve customers by leveraging Polycom video and voice collaboration solutions. 

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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