Technologies of the information society
Demonstration in Munkácsy Street
How will the technology of the information society look like? The answer to
the question changes relatively frequently because the vision is always modified
by new records. Researchers, developers and technology developers are getting to
overtake the user demands. It is not accidental that the programs of the
European Union attach an increasing importance to the presentation and
demonstration of the results. The National Host of Hungary undertook to
demonstrate the most recent results of domestic manufacturers and service
providers and the trends of development. From the autumn, small groups can come
to visit the achievements and technical opportunities of the information society
in a modernly equipped studio at Munkácsy Mihály utca 16. Dr. Zsolt Balassy
talked about the demonstration of high bandwidth image and voice transmission
and the establishment of a laboratory or a studio with professional
- We set complex goals already in 1998 - said the Managing Director of the
National Host of Hungary. "We decided to promote Hungarian participation in
the 5th research, technology development and demonstration framework
program of the European Union, with particular regard to the projects of the
information society, to contribute to the training of those interested in the
framework program and organise exchange of views abroad to help the experts of
our member companies get more information.
- But there is something else that has really determined the unique image of
- That's true. We also decided to demonstrate the new opportunities of the
information society, using the most advanced IT and telecommunications equipment
and technologies. The experts of various areas, businessmen and private
individuals will all be able to get acquainted with the solutions that best
serve their goals. They will have an unparallelled opportunity to have a look at
and compare the new innovations. The industry will also benefit from the views
of future users and from the comparison of competing products, technologies,
services and applications.
- What happened in the period between the setting and initial implementation
of the goal?
- We were doing thorough design work. An extensive group of experts surveyed
the available high-speed broadband technologies and those in the stage of
development. They presented the advantages, disadvantages and prospects of the
different solutions. They gave a clear view of the results and circumstances of
the development of wire and wireless technologies. They gathered information,
among other things, about the feasibility of extending the previously imagined
functions of the demonstration laboratory to other areas such as the promotion
of education or quality control.
- One can think that the promotion of education or quality control is a
- It generally is, but it is not necessarily true in our case. Many global
companies are engaged in the development and modernisation of laboratory
background for the educational institutions in Budapest. The situation is
pleasingly similar in other towns, for example in Győr. Support from additional
sources is likely to find its place but our main focus is to create an
opportunity for competition-neutral demonstrations that are open to everyone.
The tests and measurements of new products and technologies and the
determination of their usability may require documentation which better fits
into the profile of a business venture than the Society.
- What about wire and wireless technologies?
- We should concentrate on wire technologies at the moment. Mobile service
providers have their well-equipped research laboratories where every condition
is available for the future reception, adoption and development of high-speed
mobile communications technologies. There is no need for building a similar
laboratory here. The wireless connection of computers is seen as an important
area, too, but we think these technologies do not affect the everyday life of
the members of the information society so much as wire technologies do.
- And what if these trends change?
- We cannot settle in forever. We are aware that the pace of development in
infocommunication may make today's advanced equipment and technologies
outdated in one or two years. Our general meeting take into consideration the
current and expected demands before making a decision on the further development
of the lab. But until then, we have to build upon the real possibilities of
today and tomorrow. There are phone lines in most of the homes and the use of
cables with two-way broadband data communication capabilities at high speeds is
also becoming widespread. ISDN is now cheaper and more easily available. The
traditional copper lines will soon be able to deliver the higher bandwidth ADSL
and xDSL technologies. The number of Internet users triples or quadruples each
year. More and more people demand professional ATM solutions. Packet switched
X.25 and Frame Relay networks continue to survive and develop to serve heavy
users. We are sure we can offer a wide variety of solutions for the different
communications problems even by using existing infrastructure.
- What steps were taken once the goal was set?
- First of all we needed a switching equipment for the safe and high-level
management of voice, data and image information transmitted by means of
different procedures. After the calling of the tender and competition of the
manufacturers we decided to buy a 34 megabit Alcatel switching centre capable of
ATM transmission. The new equipment - which is still in the phase of market
introduction - enables high bandwidth fast data transmission between the Host,
Antenna Hungária, GTS Hungary, Matáv, Vivendi and other service providers.
Whatever innovation they want to demonstrate they can do it at our headquarters.
We also need an experimental studio where small groups of professionals or
all those interested can hold videoconferences with their partners in Hungary or
in any part of the world. The lessor of our rented property at Munkácsy Mihály
utca 16 allowed us to attach additional areas and make the necessary
conversions. In early July we can start to develop the studio with the required
lighting and acoustic capabilities. The work is expected to be finished by the
end of the month.
We need to provide for appropriate video equipment, coding and encoding
units, screens, cameras and a control panel. The equipment of Synergon was found
to best suit our needs. It will be deployed and tested when the studio is
complete. We expect to welcome the first visitors in September.
- What opportunities will be offered to the visitors of the demonstration
- They can take their seats in a comfortable studio and see their partners,
perhaps also themselves, on a monitor or monitors placed on the wall. By using
the camera, the acoustic system and the broadband network they can keep lifelike
contact even with multiple similarly equipped sites. The high quality of voice
and video makes them feel like sitting in the same room with their partners. We
must take into consideration, of course, that most of the studios in Hungary use
less fast networks, simpler cameras and cheaper equipment and many of the
visitors can afford less advanced solutions only. We will show them that even a
simpler system should not necessarily be of inferior quality or unreliable. We
have to show them a range of solutions from which they can choose the one that
best suits their needs and they can prepare for their gradual replacement and
upgrade, knowing the trends of development.
- I guess not only IT, telecommunications and multimedia devices will be
shown to those who visit the laboratory...
- No, because we have committed ourselves to demonstrating the different new
potentials of the information society and this can make the program
inexhaustably rich and diverse. Not right now, of course, but in the course of
time when the new opportunities offered by the demonstration lab are already
widely known. We want to assist those who wish to find the new potentials of the
society of the future, who have good ideas but lack the necessary infrastructure
to execute, display or demonstrate their plans. Almost every aspect of life can
be addressed from "tailored" educational materials to educational or movie
films downloadable on demand at home from the network. If it is up to us, we
will function as a multiplex movie theatre where different films are on every
- What sort of new opportunities does this technology offer to education, for
- If you have a computer and you can access the Internet, you can download
different text files, data or tables. You can even search through them. But you
will face difficulties if you want to model something and display the model on a
traditional network. It would be good sometimes to insert videos in the study
material or display the lecture of an excellent teacher by means of video and
voice. Much time and travel could be saved with interactive consultation blocks
when a live broadcast is created between the teacher and the student. This can
be realised by a little organisation effort and by using a new approach to the
development of the curriculum. It is significantly cheaper to develop the
technology than establishing, expanding and maintaining a new educational
institution and paying the travel expenses or rental of the students who live in
- If you mention the costs may I ask you how will the Host finance the
- This is not a secret. A considerable amount of membership fees has been
accumulated and a little of it has been spent since our establishment in 1998.
We work with minimum staff and administration, with no major expenses. We
participated in the tenders of KHVM (Ministry of Transport, Communication and
Water Management) and received money on multiple occasions from the funds
appropriated for the financing of new technologies. Almost in two years, we
could purchase the best equipment newly introduced in the market. It was not
absolutely necessary but we always followed the public procurement procedures to
be able to purchase the most advanced products at affordable prices. As I have
mentioned before, we have to face quick depreciation of our equipment and
software and the need for upgrades and replacements due to the rapid development
of the industry. But we can preserve the high standard of the laboratory by
perfectly completing our tasks and efficiently contributing to the exploration
and demonstration of the new potentials of the information society to the
satisfaction of our partners. We believe the fees will contribute to the
maintenance and upgrade of the laboratory as and when needed.
Copyright © MNH 1999
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Last updated: 09-02-2001