At the dawn of a new millennium, an information revolution is taking place that involves the convergence of communications and computer processing. The Internet is the first manifestation of this revolution. Soon to come are radically innovative technologies and protocols that will enable free flow of multimedia data between different types of information systems. The success of these networking technologies, however, depends not only on functional aspects, but even more on the cost of introducing them into existing infrastructures. In this talk, we present a comprehensive overview of the communication requirements of future multimedia applications, with particular emphasis on what these requirements imply for the design of network protocols. We will then address new system approaches needed to support future multimedia data and render their communications as efficient and inexpensive as possible.