The previous decade has seen a variety of trends and developments in the area of communications and thus multimedia access. While individual, isolated developments produced small advances on the status quo, their combination and cross-fertilization resulted in today's complex but exciting landscape. In particular, we are beginning to see delivery of all types of data for all types of users in all types of conditions. This article discusses the current status of universal multimedia access (UMA) technologies and investigates future directions in this area. Key developments and trends from the last few years have set the scene for ubiquitous multimedia consumption. In summary, these are: wireless communications and mobility; standardized multimedia content; interactive versus passive consumption; and the Internet and the World Wide Web (WWW).