You can be sure no one is listening in

When I was a high school senior, my grandparents had a party line for their phone. Two short rings meant the call was for them. A short ring and a long ring meant the call was for their neighbor.

Today, the same house, where my parents live now, has a broadband, wireless Internet connection, cable television, a phone jack in every room and two cell phone chargers ? the modern rural farmhouse.

Telecommunications and the changes in that market have been much on my mind with this issue. Roseanne Gerin's cover story is about the continuing convergence of telecom and IT in the government space. The idea of convergence has been around for years, but it's still a hot ? and sometimes contentious ? issue, as Gerin explains in her story. Some agencies embrace it while others hold it at arms length, content with how their networks operate now.

In a companion piece in our Federal section, Gerin explores how AT&T Inc.'s pending acquisition of BellSouth will make a strong telecom player even stronger. One of those boosts in strength will be the merger's marrying of typical telecom prowess with wireless capabilities and professional services.

While the term "convergence" has not been raised in our second cover story, Alice Lipowicz's look into Boeing Co.'s winning of the Secure Border Initiative Network is the embodiment of convergence. The network will collect and communicate vast amounts of information in any form: voice, video or data. Border agents will communicate and share data among themselves and with other federal, state and local officials.

Boeing's win raises questions as to how exactly that convergence will be done.
Using towers and fiber-optics has been suggested, so has unmanned
aerial vehicles and satellites.

One thing is for sure, they won't be using my grandfather's party line.

About the Author

Nick Wakeman is the editor-in-chief of Washington Technology. Follow him on Twitter: @nick_wakeman.

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