As Internet users, we can make telephone calls, watch TV, share music, offer transportation, and rent properties through our Internet-connected devices. Only a few years ago, such services were handled by different technological systems and industries that were governed by different regulations. However, the omnipresence of the Internet has helped the convergence of technological platforms for the telecommunications, broadcasting, information delivery, transportation, and hospitality sectors.
In the field of traditional telecommunications, the main point of convergence is represented by Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. The growing popularity of VoIP systems such as Skype and Viber is based on lower prices, the possibility of integrating data and voice communication lines, and the use of advanced PC- and mobile-device-based tools. With YouTube and similar services, the Internet is also converging with traditional multimedia and entertainment services. Such services – which use the Internet as the delivery platform – are known as over-the-top (OTT) services.
In the transportation and hospitality sectors, new Internet businesses have transformed old industries. The Internet has facilitated the creation of platforms focused on the sharing economy through which private parties may provide services similar to traditional businesses such as hotels and taxis. The convergence of technological platforms with these sectors have in turn challenged traditional regulatory structures. Competitors from these traditional markets often challenge governments and courts to apply the same tax, safety, and labour regulations that they are bound to these new online platforms.
Moreover, with ongoing development of the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), the integration of new technologies into existing products, services, and business processes is also increasingly seen as a matter of convergence.