There are many aspects of the modern world that we tend to take for granted, objects without which the world of 2015 simply would not exist. Not only is today’s word one of the day building blocks of the modern information-based society, but it is also enticingly and increasingly relevant in business/financial terms as British Telecom has just announced its intent to buy mobile operator EE for £12.5 billion. Today’s word telecom, is a word that we use all too frequently without understanding just how important it is.
While most people understand that telecom is a shortened form of the word telecommunication, few fully understand what a telecom does and why this £30 billion industry is so important. Simply put, telecoms are responsible for facilitating communication. From initially laying telephone/telegraph wires to developing DSL infrastructure and erecting 4G technology towers, the backbone of modern communication is the telecom. Looking at Ofcom numbers, 59% of the British population has a fixed voice connection, 36% have a fixed data connection, and a whopping 130% have mobile connections, which suggests multiple mobiles per person. Not only do we rely of telecoms for communicating and access information at home and on the go, but we are spending more time with digital media: with time spent for print, traditional tv, and radio remaining relatively flat, time spent with digital media continues to climb, from just over 2 hours a day in 2011 (2:05) to almost 4 hours a day in 2014 (3:41).
Interestingly, the colloquialism telecom came into use several decades before it was ever associated with British Telecom, which only really occurred circa its spin-off from the General Post Office in 1984. The first use of telecom was in the 1963 periodical Telecoms Topics, which states that, “This new publication, Telecoms Topics… will contain the latest information about… G.E.C. Telecommunications.” A year later, in renowned general Douglas MacArthur’s biography, Reminiscences, he states that, “By ‘telecom’ I was directed to use the Navy and the Air Force to assist South Korean defenses by whatever use I could make of these two arms,” showing that, even when referring to previous means of communication, the term was starting to encompass a broad interpretation of media. Regardless of whether we are trading stocks online, editing an entry on Wikipedia, or posting a selfie on Twitter, none of it could happen without a telecom working in the background. And without telecom – you would had to wait, let us say, until tomorrow’s newspaper to read this word of the day!