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Information and communications technology (I.C.T) is often used as an extended synonym for information technology (IT), but is a more specific term that stresses the role of unified communications and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals), computers as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage, and audio-visual systems, which enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.
The term ICT is also used to refer to the convergence of audio-visual and telephone networks with computer networks through a single cabling or link system. There are large economic incentives (huge cost savings due to elimination of the telephone network) to merge the telephone network with the computer network system using a single unified system of cabling, signal distribution and management.
The phrase ICT has been used by academic researchers since the 1980s, but it became popular after it was used in a report to the UK government by Dennis Stevenson in 1997 and in the revised National Curriculum for England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2000. As of September 2013, the term "ICT" in the UK National Curriculum has been replaced by the term "computing" reflecting the changes to the curriculum by introducing programming. A leading group of universities consider ICT to be a soft subject and advise students against studying A-level ICT, preferring instead A-level Computer Science.
The money spent on IT worldwide has been most recently estimated as US $3.5 trillion and is currently growing at 5% per year – doubling every 15 years. The 2014 IT budget of US federal government is nearly $82 billion. IT costs, as a percentage of corporate revenue, have grown 50% since 2002, putting a strain on IT budgets. When looking at current companies’ IT budgets, 75% are recurrent costs, used to “keep the lights on” in the IT department, and 25% are cost of new initiatives for technology development.
The average IT budget has the following breakdown:
On 21 December 2001, the United Nations General Assembly approved Resolution 56/183, endorsing the holding of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) to discuss the opportunities and challenges facing today's information society. According to this resolution, the General Assembly related the Summit to the United Nations Millennium Declaration's goal of implementing ICT to achieve Millennium Development Goals. It also emphasized a multi-stakeholder approach to achieve these goals, using all stakeholders including civil society and the private sector, in addition to governments.
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