OVER the past year, the communications industry has undergone dramatic changes in a number of areas. The growth of the Internet, the launching of new services, and the convergence of industries have been the early signs of these changes. However, John Legere, president of Communications Services, AT & T Asia Pacific, believes we have only seen the beginning of a revolution. Speaking at a recent American Chamber of Commerce luncheon, Mr Legere remarked on how at the beginning of the century, fixed phone lines were the norm, and the promise was of universal phone services. Today, however, as we approach the next century, access to communications can be gained through a variety of means including, the Internet, satellite phones, videophones, even air-phones onboard aircraft. Consequently, universal connectivity has become the promise of the 21st century. Meanwhile, traditional voice communications were seeing a slew of new services, and Mr Legere believed soon both personal and business customers would be able to create customised packages to suit their own needs. For businesses, there will be on-line databases, video conferencing, EDI and local area network connectivity, while for the personal user there will be Internet access, home shopping and entertainment, to name just a few. According to Mr Legere, the Internet is going to be a major factor in the communications revolution, particularly with improvements in technology offering voice over the Internet. Another factor fuelling change in the industry is change in the actual make-up of the industry. Around the world, governments are breaking down monopolies and increasing competition. Mr Legere said privatising monopolies helped economies stay competitive while forcing the companies to provide cost-competitive advanced services to their customers, while fuelling the growth of the industry. At the same time, companies are expanding beyond their national markets by forming global alliances. Examples of this include British Telecom's alliance with American company MCI, and the alliance between Deutsche Telecom, France Telecom and Sprint of the US. Meanwhile, as we see a merging of industries, recent acquisitions in the entertainment field, although at first glance not related to communications, could play a large part in the future of the industry.