Notable payoffs from U.S. investment in telecommunications research and related areas in recent decades include the following:
The Internet, which realized a new communications paradigm, introduced a new, highly flexible network architecture and protocols, and ultimately enabled myriad new applications and services;
Radio-frequency communications technologies for cellular systems and wireless local area networks, which have enabled modern mobile voice and data communications;
Optical networks, which have revolutionized communications by providing extraordinary communications bandwidths at very low unit cost; and
Voice over IP (VoIP), which provides voice communications with enhanced flexibility and efficiency and has provided opportunities for innovation in applications beyond those provided by the public switched network.
Nations such as China, Japan, Korea, and member states of the European Union have identified telecommunications as a strategic area for economic development and have launched a variety of initiatives to enhance academic, industry, and joint industry-academic research in accord with vigorously promulgated national visions. Equipment vendors in a number of countries (such as China) now compete strongly with U.S. firms and have been very successful in emerging markets. Some nations’ active support for their domestic industries has extended beyond investment in research to include measures for protection of domestic telecommunications industries, thus placing further stress on the U.S. telecommunications industry.