This article introduces a new dimension to the debate over the re-conceptualisation of communicative competence and its implications for language pedagogy. Approaching the issue from a technological rather than a socio-political perspective, it begins by tracing the marginalisation of technological matters in descriptions of communicative competence. Next, work on the effect of the media on communication is reviewed. This leads to the deconstruction of communication into a set of five variables that are examined in detail, together with their impact on participants. It is shown how variation along any one of the dimensions may affect the ability of less proficient language users to participate, and may cause variations along another. The article ends with a critical evaluation of the relevance of the framework to different contexts and some suggestions for further research.