The telecommunications industry, which once consisted mainly of the telephone companies and their equipment vendors, has expanded greatly. It now includes a broad set of service providers, including telephone companies, cable operators, Internet service providers, and wireless carriers, as well as equipment vendors offering fiber-optic, cable, and wireless connections. Telecommunications comprises all the hardware and software for the telecommunications infrastructure and the applications that run over that infrastructure. It involves communication of information in a wide array of media including voice, images, animation, video, documents, and data.
Without a renewed and sustained investment in telecommunications research, the United States risks losing global leadership in telecommunications and related industries, with significant consequences for the U.S. economy and society.
There are many promising avenues for telecommunications research, and renewed U.S. investment would yield major dividends, as indicated by the following possible results:
An enhanced Internet architecture that goes beyond incremental improvements to deliver capabilities such as greater trustworthiness in the network core and in customer networks, improved addressing and routing, and end-to-end quality-of-service provisioning;1
More trustworthy networks that can better cope with the rising frequency, sophistication, and severity of attacks and the complexities and interdependencies associated with the convergence of voice and data networks;
Telepresence and telecollaboration environments that reproduce at a distance a local space with the fidelity needed to allow people to work in concert;
Public safety networks that offer greater mobility, interoperability, adaptability to harsh and changing conditions, and increased resiliency to damage; and
Adaptive and cognitive wireless networks that enable higher-performance communications and more efficient use of radio spectrum, allowing them to provide capabilities that rival and complement those associated with wired networks.
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