Notable benefits have accrued to the United States as a result of its leadership in defining the Internet’s design, for example. However—by virtue of its very success—the existing Internet architecture has become difficult to change. Despite many potential avenues for significant improvements in areas ranging from security to real-time audio and video transmis sion, research and development has become largely incremental in nature. Moreover, the current architecture is largely commoditized, and firms from other nations will become increasingly able to deliver competitive products and services. Research aimed at defining future architectures promises particular benefits because U.S. firms will be positioned to offer new kinds of services and not just incremental improvements to existing ones.
Telecommunications research carried out on behalf of the telecommunications industry can have a powerful payoff for all members of the industry.
Because the value of a network grows with the number of its users, network operators will seek to make their networks interoperable with those of other operators. Interoperation requires some degree of common technology, which means that many network innovations cannot be appropriated by a single player.Without renewed investment and resulting opportunities to do research, it will be very difficult to attract, train, and retain the research talent required for the United States to maintain a strong position in telecommunications.
Sustaining a base of researchers and research institutions is critical to the long-term health of a research discipline. Without adequate research funding, it will be hard to attract new students to the field, retain foreign students in the United States, provide critically needed support for postdoctoral researchers, or attract and develop new faculty and industrial researchers.
U.S. critical infrastructure, national defense, and homeland security, which depend on having uninterrupted access to leading-edge telecommunications technology, are potentially threatened by the loss of a domestic telecommunications industry.
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