THE latest annual report of that small and little-known telecommunications firm AT&T landed on the desk with a plonk last week. And it makes interesting reading. Though an industry small-fry, AT&T had a pretty good year last year, as far we could determine. Well, that depends on whether you would agree that revenues of US$75 billion and a net income of $4.7 billion constitutes a good year. In my book, any number with that many zeros and written in black ink is generally considered 'good'. Which leads me to the statement carried on the front cover of the report, which will give you some idea of how ambitious AT&T chairman Bob Allen's growth plans are. The statement reads: 'With five per cent of the US$1.5 trillion global information industry, AT&T is a small fish with lots of room to grow'. That has got to be the biggest small fish I have ever heard of. By the way, anyone interested in having a look at what such a sardine-sized company is capable of putting up on the Internet should have a look at AT&T's World Wide Web home page at http://www.att.com/ . I had a look at the site yesterday, and can only say this is the kind of Web page that other Web pages talk about. Still, I suppose it can't hurt having the Bell Laboratories lending a hand with the design work. Very slick, indeed.HONG KONG plays host to one of the more interesting telecommunications conferences of the year in May with the Pan-Asian Converging Communications Summit 1995 due to be staged at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers from May 1 to 3. There will be a lot of interesting stuff on offer with a solid line-up of high-level executive speakers from global telecoms companies. Be prepared for lots of talk about multimedia, interactive services, switched digital broadband, and any of the many other buzz words floating about the industry that you would like to throw in. If nothing else, it should provide the public with a glimpse of what the Hong Kong telecommunications market might look like in a few years' time, once the competitive influences of the three new fixed-line operators begin to take root in the territory. You can be sure that Hong Kong will boast one of the most advanced telecoms networks in the world. The investments of the three new operators (to say nothing of Hongkong Telecom) will take full advantage of some of the convergence technologies discussed at the conference, leap-frogging technology phases straight to the heart of state-of-the-art. The telecommunications industry is without doubt getting very, very sexy. Which makes a change. Can you imagine the words 'telecommunications' and 'sexy' ever appearing in the same sentence just a few years ago? Maybe, but not on this planet.MORE on video on demand (VOD). Britain's dominant telecommunications carrier BT (formerly British Telecom) has kicked off its trial VOD project - based on Oracle's video-server technology - to 2,500 subscribers in Colchester and Ipswich. VOD is a pretty self-explanatory service, though as with most such systems, the trial will include such interactive services as home shopping and the like. But one service BT director of interactive services Rupert Gavin revealed at a recent conference in Florida really grabbed our attention. The company plans to set up a bulletin board-type system that will allow home users to post their own movies. Basically, as a bi-directional service, the users at home will be able to 'publish' their own home movies on the network's bulletin board for other viewers to watch. The potential for such a service is extraordinary. Think of it as public access community television. Amateur film-makers will have a field day, suddenly being able to access a potential viewing audience that will eventually (when the pilots are complete and nationwide services in place) reach into the millions. Sure, putting such powerful media tools in the hands of amateurs is dangerous - get ready for a whole slew of truly awful attempts at 'art' from would-be Spielberg's. But talk about empowerment! Television is a powerful medium, and with the ability to broadcast in the hands of the average Joe, this is a democratisation process running rampant. OK, so a lot of the content is going to look like America's Funniest Home Videos, only worse. But such a system has plenty of positive potential as well, giving a powerful new media voice to various clubs, societies, organisations and special interest groups which have a message to deliver. Like the Internet and other on-line information systems, a VOD service such as this will undoubtedly have an awesome impact on the media industry, radically altering the shape of the industry as we know it.