Monday, October 11, 1999 Published at 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Business: The Economy
Global telecoms extravaganza
The world's biggest telecoms event starts this week
By the BBC's Richard Quest in Geneva
It's a techies delight - more that one thousand exhibitors from the telecom world showing the best they have to offer.
Every four years tens of thousands of people who work in the industry descend on Geneva for this fiesta of communication.
It is run by the International Telecommunications Union - a division of the United Nations which sets international standards for telephony.
In the past the ITU event has been a staid affair much taken with discussing agreements and standards. Nothing could be further from the truth this time.
Instead, here in Geneva are the top companies trying to outdo themselves to offer new technology on demand.
Some stands cost millions of dollars are several stories high and have huge video walls and glamorous demonstrations - displaying cellular technology and internet equipment at the cutting edge.
Then there are the hundreds of companies that make the equipment that makes the Internet run.
The fibre optics, the cables, the switches and the computers. They are all here.
This time there are some very real and hot issues, notably the idea of convergence.
It is the buzzword in Geneva. Convergence is where all the communications mediums come together. Fixed line phones merging with cellular phones which access the Internet - and then have the ability to let you watch TV.
Walking around the giant Palexpo centre it's easy to think you are glimpsing the future - only to realise this is technology available today.
There is the mobile phone that plays MP3 music in high quality stereo.
And there is another mobile phone that has a mini keyboard which can be attached to write e-mails, eliminating the need to use the number pad.
Soon there will be companies that promise we will be integrating our televisions and computers with the washing machine and kettle - no doubt.
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