The Forum for European ICT & Media Professionals (FITCE) Explores the Delivery and Consumption of Digital Media

By Edward Smith - UK Representative on the FITCE Board

FITCE is a federation of national associations in each of its 10 member countries and is a Sister Society of the IEEE Communication Society (ComSoc), with which it signed cooperation and publication side agreements in 2015. It allows its members to keep in touch with leading ICT developments and aspires to build strong cultural and business ties between European ICT (Information and Communications Technology) professionals. This is achieved by encouraging members to benefit from the experience acquired by other members in all ICT fields and in particular provide support to young professionals as they develop their careers.

FITCE organizes an annual congress for improving information and knowledge exchange, communication, networking and relationships among members. This year’s conference was held in Salford and is described below, together with an overview of the activties of national organizations. For more details please link to the FITCE web site at

The FITCE Conference

The 57th FITCE Congress considered the delivery and consumption of digital media and was held in MediaCityUK, Salford, UK on 6–7 September 2018. There were 75 delegates, who enjoyed four technical sessions delivering 15 papers, seven keynote speeches, an absorbing technical visit to dock10’s studios, and an entertaining and thought provoking roundtable. The conference was staged as a joint venture between FITCE and the University of Salford.

Professor Nigel Linge and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Helen Marshall, both of the University of Salford, opened the conference and emphasised Salford’s close links with industry, in particular, its links with the media companies located at Media- CityUK. Andy Valdar, President of FITCE, described the impact that video had had on the market place and the influence that media and telecommunications technologies have on each other.

Jamie Hindhaugh, the Chief Operating Officer of BT Sport, then spoke about the BT Sport studios facility and its construction, the service being built and launched in nine months. Ian Macrae, Director of Market Intelligence at Ofcom, spoke on “the changing picture: trends in how we access and watch TV and other video.”

In the first paper session, Andy Sutton of BT described BT’s 5G Network Architecture and its role in enabling the future delivery and consumption of digital media. Juan Riol Martin of Universidad Carlos III de Madrid provided a techno-economic analysis of suitable 5G use cases. Hassan Hamdoun of BT then described media delivery, and Berit Schubert of ATOS (Germany) described “pathways to digital transformation in the media industry”.

Laurence Murphy of the University of Salford considered the evolution of broadcasting and the marriage between broadcast and communications technologies.

Ed Smith of BT described QUIC’s role as a transport mechanism for IP video, with particular emphasis on performance requirements. Tom Evens of Ghent University then examined “Platform Mania in Television Distribution,” concluding that TV is not dead, but is entering a new era of competition, where its revenues are under threat. Doug Williams of BT considered object based media distribution and Silvia Rossi of UCL talked about learning optimal streaming strategies for virtual reality applications.

Ian Wagdin, the Senior Technology Transfer Manager with BBC R&D, opened the second day by examining developments in TV broadcasting. This was followed by a session on new TV and video services from Fernando Garcia Calvo, the Director of the Huawei Video Business in Europe.

Brahim Allan from BT explored the subjective testing of High Dynamic Range. Ed Smith and Mauro Ugolini of Roma Tre University asked the question “What is the future for media in the Post Information Age?” Peggy Valcke of KU Leuven followed this by looking at the proposition, “Is regulating the video-sharing platform a slippery slope towards Internet censorship?“ Seamus Simpson of the University of Salford then spoke about public policy and media convergence paths and their limitations and prospects.

In the afternoon, Andy Valdar of UCL looked at important developments in telecommunications network architecture and considered the important architectural facets of commercially successful telecommunications services. Doug Williams of BT asked the question “Does exploding data drive a demand for Gigabit connections?” He explored what was driving bandwidth growth and what that meant in reality. Finally, Jon Hart from BT described “5G Network Slicing and Convergence: Key Technologies in Next Generation Networks.”

This was followed by a roundtable discussion that examined the question “Where will we be in five years?” The panelists gave some highly individual and insightful responses.

The major conclusions of the conference were that there is a growing dependence on media and networks, creating both opportunities and challenges for telecommunications companies. Artificial Intelligence, improved display and compression technologies, Virtual Reality and 5G radio are expected to be significant enablers of change. Age demographics will play an important part in deciding the mix of media that has to be delivered, with simultaneous access of multiple devices being common.

The media market is changing rapidly and agility in addressing markets is a critical success factor. New formats such as UHD and HDR will enhance the viewing experience. Advertisers exert considerable influence in the marketplace and have significantly exerted pressure on platforms to remove questionable content.

Regulation has struggled to keep up with changes in the market, and while it has focussed on promoting competition, there are issues about the abuse of significant market power and the impartiality, accuracy and balanced nature of some of the material shown.

Around Europe

This has been a hectic year for Belgium, who held eight events, including a symposium in Ghent on Fibre to the Home, which attracted over 100 people. Another symposium was held to investigate the impact of Artificial Intelligence. Following the successful Fibre to the Home webinar, a session on 5G is also planned to be made available across FITCE Europe. In addition, the organization held a competition for young professionals to share their ideas and vision on major technology trends, asking the question: “Are you an AI-believer, robotics-enthusiast, or a non-believer?”

Poland has seen modest increases in membership and now offers an award for the best M.Sc., and the Polish Science Academy invites the winner to give a presentation. The organization has also helped with some external consultancy projects, including providing expert witness support to the Polish courts. Work is ongoing in producing a Polish Telecommunications history.

In Spain, they recently held a conference dealing with IT issues, and the organization has prepared a number of reports on new technologies, as well as preparing training courses for engineers.

The UK organization remains very active and has held several major seminars on topics including The Future of Business Services, 5G–More Than Yet Another Generation of Mobile and the Future of Online Entertainment. The popular ITP Family Christmas lecture, an interactive look at telecommunications, was given in Birmingham, Ipswich, London, Salford and Glasgow. The annual ITP Annual Dinner and Awards, where achievements across the industry are honored, was held in November. In addition, there were visits to the BT Archives, the Blandford Museum, Bletchley Park and the Cisco Experience.