The major benefits to the economy obtained at Level 3 are the coalescence of Level 1 and 2 elements. Skilled workers, a competence to understand the new technology, the availability of the technology, and shared goals are the ingredients required to create a healthy telecommunications industry and, more broadly, a capable telecommunications infrastructure.
Interestingly, not all of the research performed affects telecommunications alone. Because telecommunications touches multiple industries, the technology base it provides also often enables the creation of entirely new industries. The success of the iPod and other portable digital music players, for example, rests in part on earlier telecommunications-inspired work on how to compress audio for efficient transmission over limited-bandwidth channels.
At Level 4, an indirect benefit of research is a telecommunications infrastructure that provides advantages to all industries that use telecommunications. There are also end-user or consumer benefits that accrue to having an outstanding infrastructure, such as enhanced education, entertainment, and personal convenience. Finally, new companies also emerge from these new industries.
In the early 1970s, following years of resistance to the idea, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began setting aside a range of radio frequencies for radio telephony. Near the end of that decade, a trial of cellular phone technology had been conducted in Chicago, and the world’s first commercial cellular phone service was introduced in Tokyo, Japan.
By the early 1980s, the FCC was issuing wireless telephony licenses and setting up metropolitan and rural jurisdictions (so-called metropolitan statistical areas and rural service areas), and, by the middle of the decade, first-generation wireless systems were being deployed in the United States. These systems were based on analog cellular technology using the advanced mobile phone system (or AMPS) technology that had been developed by Bell Labs. Cellular technology was being deployed in other countries, as well, although the technology and standards adopted internationally were very different from those used in the United States. Thus began one of today’s most vibrant and competitive industries—competition among wireless providers in today’s market is fierce, and new products and services emerge almost on a daily basis now.
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