What do we mean by “Telecommunications”

Yesterday we made a public release of a paper in which we outlined the key high level issues we thought should be discussed and debated as part of the current review of the Telecommunications Act – you can read it here
We’re very clear that our focus is on the outcomes for our members, and to help businesses make the most of the new digitally connected economy. And it’s that phrase “digitally connected” that has got me thinking and talking with TUANZ members over the last few months about how that lines up with the word “telecommunications” in the name of our organisation. 
The word itself is basically a 1930’s French word – being a combination of tele meaning ‘at a distance’ and communicationAccording to Google, the use of the word peaked in the last 90’s and has slowly dropped off since then. And you can probably understand that – what comes to mind when you think of the telecommunications? If you’re of my generation you probably first think of telephones and maybe even the old rotary dial phones! If you’re younger you may not even know what a rotary dial is. In fact you probably haven’t even really thought about how we ended up with the telecommunication services we have today – you just are used to being able to communicate through various digital technologies. And so why would you be interested in an organisation that is called the Telecommunications Users Association?
Well… I’ve been talking to people about that too. I’ve come to the conclusion that the word does encapsulate so much more than just telephones, circuits or infrastructure. It very much describes the modern digital connected world.  Many online businesses didn’t exist 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. They use the power of the internet to reach out and communicate over distance to people who visit the business’ website and (hopefully) transact while there. These businesses wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for telecommunications. TUANZ has a growing number of young entrepreneurs who are getting involved because they know that they couldn’t do what they do if it wasn’t for an organisation like ours, working to help businesses make the most of the opportunities presented by today’s digital economy.
In truth today’s digital environment is just the latest development in telecommunications – we’ve just added the internet to the ways we communicate over distance. For example, this was written using Google Docs, blogged using Squarespace, an online, browser based website builder that relies on being connected to the internet to work.   You might receive a message via SMS, or by an app on your smartphone while reading this, and you probably work in a business that in some way uses the internet to transact or communicate. All of these are examples of the use of telecommunications – so maybe it’s not quite time to retire the word yet.

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