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Friday, 14 December, 2001, 11:40 GMT
Telecommunications: What will the next 100 years bring?
Wednesday, 12 December, marks the centenary of the first transatlantic wireless signal from Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada.

Every development in communications - radio, TV, mobile phones, satellites - can be traced back to the Morse code "s" - dot, dot, dot - received by the Italian inventor Marconi.

There have been extraordinary achievements since this historic transmission 100 years ago.

But what breakthroughs in telecommunications do you think will happen in the next 100 years?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction


Almost all work will be done in virtual environments

Jack, UK
I think that by the end of this century, almost all work will be done in virtual environments, even manual jobs. With the demise of fossil fuel, travel will be less available than now so people will work from home, their own personal environments connected electronically to robotic limbs. This will of course eventually lead to many changes in our species, social and physical. Perhaps these hypothetical changes in society may lead us to be less territorial, who knows.
Jack, UK

We have just entered the new age of the 21st century, and witnessed the wonderful results that telecommunications have brought to us in the past century. I strongly believe that the future is bright and who knows, maybe we can enjoy comfort like those in Star Wars with robots serving us and the freedom of space travel.
Andy, Singapore

How about affordable internet access?
Mark, UK


A world where telecommunications will be a luxury

Yahya, New Zealand
For the last 10 years or so we have witnessed great advances in telecommunications and the speed with which they are developing and changing is quite spooky. However I believe that fast 'unstoppable' advances in telecommunications are going to stop at some stage within the next 100 years and scientists will be asked to turn their attention to do some development on more crucial things in a world where telecommunications will be a luxury.
Yahya, New Zealand

DNA-based computers will perform incredibly fast operations; electronic devices will try to imitate the efficiency of live organisms.
Keith G, Alaska

Back in the 1970's it was predicted that the upcoming information technology revolution would free society from the drudgery of work. We would all be able to work less and have more leisure time.... why is everybody laughing?
Jane, Wales, UK


We will see Star Trek-level technology a century from now

Andy W, UK
One hundred years ago, if you had told anyone that it was possible to receive sound and pictures through magical waves in the air, to a box in your home, and that we would have mobile telephones and computers, you would have been put away. The advances in the last one hundred years have been revolutionary. So why not assume that we will see Star Trek-level technology a century from now, such as the holodeck or transporters? I suppose the holy grail at the moment is 3D TV. We can all envisage what that could be like, but it seems to be a long time in coming.
Andy W, UK

Unless something is done about the precious bandwidth that is being squandered on television broadcasts, terrestrial and satellite, I think that the future of wireless telecommunications is in serious jeopardy.
Barney, UK

Microsoft will be but a distant memory, their business having become obsolete in much the same way as canals. We will have had a major recession/depression, which will have been so severe as to realign people's values and make them appreciate how good life really is. We will have the technology for almost limitless power, but be unable to use it because of lobby groups. We will have the technology for vastly improved communication, but be unable to use it cheaply because of monopolies. Governments will be more irrelevant than today. The cost of a life will be so high in the developed world that the medical profession will have collapsed due to vast court settlements. The internet will be entirely regulated and paid for by commerce. Technology will be used to monitor our every move, George Orwell '1984' style, all in the name of "safety" and "anti-terrorism measures". Pretty grim outlook I'd say.
Chris Cowdery, UK


Implants that read thought patterns and articulate them into actions

Martin Adams, UK
Implants that read thought patterns and articulate them into actions. Once brain activity is better understood, such as the wish to move your arm, electronic devices will pick up these signals and activate any commands - particularly mobile communications. "I want to talk to Joe Bloggs" will be logged by the implant and a telecommunications channel opened up between you and Joe Bloggs ready for you to think the conversations you want. It will be dangerous really - pseudo-telepathy. The same could apply to driving, household activities, PC work, basically anything. Will we ever lose the ability of speech? Maybe. Whatever, we will need to strictly train our minds not to wander while we're "thinking" a conversation.
Martin Adams, UK

I think the best prediction of the future is in Terry Gilliam's film Brazil.
Jan, UK

It will be possible to virtually travel to another location. For example, to call the folks you will simply put on a headset, lie back on the sofa and instantly appear, if the call is taken of course, in your parents' house.
Blewyn, UK

Maybe in 100 years the approach to customer service might improve though I realise that's rather too fanciful.
Andrew Cover, UK

Lego kits will be replaced by "build-your-own PC/mobile phone/CD player" kits. The effects of low-level electromagnetic radiation will become understood and the current generation of providers will be regarded like tobacco companies. Data transmission will be as fast as voice transmission now. Telephoning from the skies will become routine. A series of satellites will be set up throughout the solar system as part of mankind's exploration of space. The CIA will secretly implant bugging devices via surgery into whoever it thinks requires one. A mad terrorist will use telecommunications technology to put the US President in a coma. The Amish will continue to live their lives without telecommunications.
Rhys Jaggar, England

It is likely that telephones, computers, TVs and VCD/DVD players will continue to resemble one another more closely and eventually become one integrated unit - perhaps with 3-D glasses to wear instead of a screen. What should it be called? Anyway, this is already possible technologically, if only it hadn't been for the various rival companies that are trying to protect their own interests and market dominance.
Asim, Africa

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