I read somewhere recently that it took fifty-five years for the automobile to get to a quarter of the population, and only seven years for the Internet to do the same. But just take a minute and think of all the inventions before during and since these two innovations.
There has been electricity, telephones, aeroplanes, space ships, Global Position Sensors, Computers, cellular phones, lap top computers and so on. Thankfully we have had the opportunity to use or experience just about every one of them.
This extremely fast pace of discoveries and inventions have driven economic progress throughout the world. It is estimated that in the USA "the number of scientists and engineers working in research and development has doubled since the early 1970's; more than half of US patents have been issued in the past 40 years; and the number of new products put on the market annually has tripled since 1980. With so much R & D occurring, companies are likely to keep offering innovative goods and services at a furious pace. In the future, daily life will include applications for dozens of modern day breakthroughs – such as magnetic resonance imaging, powerful microprocessors…" etc.
The possibilities with the Internet are mind boggling. The inventions of spin off services from the Internet are no less incredible. Already we can sign on to companies that allow us to call around the world for pennies. We can search libraries throughout the globe. We can read Investors Business Daily the same time as the people in California, without visiting the store. All this is possible because it is felt the "Internet is particularly powerful in driving technological change because it reduces the cost of new discoveries."
By using this computer technology it is envisioned that diseases will be cured in the future through DNA analysis. "The Human Genome Project is expected to map the location and sequence of all the genes on the 23 pairs of human chromosomes by 2003." Other projects include molecular engineering that is making "fibre stronger than steel yet more elastic than a spider-s web."
Where do we fit in?
The most intriguing developments from our perspective are the Internet phone systems and the palm top market. As we already have one of the most modern cable networks in the region we could be the offshore haven of the world in no time with the decent telephone line access these systems can accommodate.
Friends in the offshore banking sector indicate that the lack of telephone lines is the biggest hurdle companies face when setting up shop here. Just imagine what could be accomplished using the existing cable hook-up. You want twenty lines?… no problem. How about thirty lines?… it's a snap.
Offshore banking and the banking industry in general offer excellent jobs, salary and benefits for our citizens. This does not mention the stock traders who would love to locate offshore for the obvious tax benefits. Our present growth could undoubtedly be sustained for a few more years. Nassau could eventually be so over-crowded that investors would take their services to the Family Islands just to say they have on office in The Bahamas.
Just imagine checking your e-mail with your palm top from Bay Street, or calling your supplier in Europe for 18 cents per minute. It's all available today and I can't wait.
What about BaTelco?
After all that excitement it-s appropriate that we get back to earth. It appears to me as a layman any way that BaTelCo will be left with only the licensing authority for radio, telephone and cable frequencies. Or they will simply be a service provider. I think they should be the latter with the licensing authority being left to an independent body. How about a BaTelCo/Cable Bahamas partnership?
Whatever happens we can rest assured that the growth in technology is outpacing the regulators ability to keep up. This bodes well for increased services at competitive prices for all consumers… individuals and businesses alike, with numerous opportunities for enterprising Bahamians. As far as present regulations are concerned I believe that as more of us have access to this technology the more demands will be placed on the bureaucrats and politicians to step aside and let this market explode with growth and innovation.
It will be fun to watch and participate.