Finally, telecommunications is an important component of the broader IT industry, which is sometimes viewed as having three technology legs:7 processing (to transform or change information), storage (to allow communication of information from one time to another), and communications (to transmit information from one place to another). The boundaries between these areas are not very distinct, but this decomposition helps illustrate the breadth of IT and the role that telecommunications plays. Increasingly IT systems must incorporate all three elements to different degrees,8 and it is increasingly common for companies in any sector of IT to offer products with a communications component, and often with a communications emphasis.
The IT industry’s overall strength depends on strength across communications, processing, and storage as well as strength in all layers of technology—from the physical layer (including communications hardware, microprocessors, and magnetic and optical storage), to the software infrastructure layers (operating systems and Web services), to software applications.
In this era of globalization, many companies are multinational, with operations—including R&D—conducted across the globe. For example, IBM, HP, Qualcomm, and Microsoft all have research facilities in other countries, and many European and Asian companies have research laboratories in the United States. Increasing numbers of businesses compete globally. Every company and every industry must assess the segments and niches in which it operates to remain globally competitive.
Both Asian and European nations are continuing to pursue strategies that exploit perceived U.S. weakness in telecommunications and telecommunications research as a way of improving their competitiveness in telecommunications, as well as in information technology more broadly. Leapfrogging the United States in telecommunications has, in the opinion of the committee, been an explicit and stated strategy for a number of Asian (in broadband and wireless) and European (in wireless) nations for the past decade, with notable success. These efforts have aimed to stimulate the rapid penetration of physical-layer technologies for residential access (broadband access, especially in Asia) and wireless and mobile access (cellular networks, especially in Europe).
Telecommunications research is best understood as a seed that germinates, developing into lasting value for the U.S. economy. depicts the research ecosystem and D. Messerschmitt, “Convergence of Computing and Telecommunications: What Are the Implications Today
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