Should the United States be concerned if leadership in telecommunications moves offshore, as has occurred for many other entire industries? The recent fast pace of innovation, the array of new ideas to be pursued, and the substantial investment in telecommunications by other nations are all indications that telecommunications remains a high-value sector in which rapid innovation and fundamental change will continue well into the future. Far from a mature industry, telecommunications is thus one in which the United States should strive for continuing leadership. The importance of maintaining US leadership is underscored by telecommunications' critical contribution to US leadership in information technology in general, its important contribution to improving productivity in nearly all industries,
Notable payoffs from US 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; frequency communications technologies for cellular systems and wireless local area networks, which have enabled mobile mobile voice and data communications; Optical networks, which have revolutionized communications by providing extraordinary communications bandwidths at very low unit cost; andVoice 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 US 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 US telecommunications industry.

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