The advent of satellite communications and other low-cost, high-speed telecommunications services is making possible the dawning of the new "information age," former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Richard E. Wiley said yesterday.
Speaking at a communications industry conference at the Sheraton-Park Hotel, Wiley heralded the new era as one that "will reduce inefficiency and increase productivity in the modern business office," by eliminating days or weeks formerly required to "float" information from its source to decision makers.
More than 1,000 people are attending the conference, which Wiley is chairing, called "Communication Networks 79" and sponsored by The Conference Company, a Newton, Mass., firm.
The theme of the conference is the increasingly powerful role of information transmission in the corporate world, particularly in connection with technological advances in recent years that greatly increase the speed and capacity of information systems.
"What will be created," Wiley said, "is the opportunity and capacity for nearly instantaneous reaction by management to new and changing conditions.
"Electronic communications increasingly will become a substitute for transportation as well," Wiley added, pointing to corporate meetings now being held by picture phone, greatly reducing the need for physical presence.
But, Wiley said, "the range of available product and service alternatives" that grow out of this new technology, "may depend, in large measure, on what the government will allow vendors to offer.
"In this regard, the good news is that government policy in the telecommunications field over the last several years has been directed toward opening up greater opportunities for competition."
Wiley said a great deal depends on the outcome of current legislative proposals being prepared in Congress to update the Communications Act of 1934. "In this effort," he said, "issues of profound importance will be the subject of intense analysis and debate."
He cited also the current discussions at both the Postal Rate Commission and the FCC over "ECOM" -- Electronic Computer Originated Mail -- a proposed service that would be similar to mailgram, but run by the government and able to allow the sender to enter into an electronic system a message that would be delivered to its destination the next day.
Meanwhile, one of the convention participants -- Rolm Telecommunications -- used the forum to announce a new 4,000-line computerized business telephone system that the company claims can save up to 30 percent on the phone bills of large corporations.
The system utilizes a system called Route Optimization that automatically funnel's an outgoing call through the least costly route. WATS calls, for example, are more expensive in the evening, at which point the Rolm system would route a call through direct distance dialing instead.