and infrastructure for such research (since these have traditionally and historically been the domain of the monopoly carriers), most university researchers have opted instead to focus on core technologies like semiconductors, computing, signal processing, and communication theory, where meaningful research can be done at a much smaller scale with fewer resources, and where both industry and government have been more willing to provide the support needed to create long-range academic programs.

INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT FOR TELECOMMUNICATIONS RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

In the course of its work the committee developed a keen sense of the increasing competition from international telecommunications industries (in terms of both technology and price). However, it is very difficult to collect comprehensive information on international R&D investment related to telecommunications or to assess how such investments affect a given industry. Still, there is ample evidence that a number of other nations place considerable emphasis on R&D in this sector. Three member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, for example, have legal or regulatory mandates for such research:27

  • Japan’s NTT law requires NTT to conduct research relating to telecommunications technologies and makes NTT (including the regional companies NTT East and NTT West) responsible for promoting and disseminating the results of telecommunications research.

  • Korea’s telecommunications basic law allows the Ministry for Information and Communications (MIC) to recommend that service providers contribute a percentage of total annual revenues to telecommunications research. R&D investments by carriers may be internal or external; external contributions are made to an MIC-administered fund that is then distributed to Korean research institutes.

  • In 2003, France’s telecommunications regulations required France Telecom to spend 4 percent of its unconsolidated revenues on research and development.

In addition, several nations and regions conduct major research programs with significant government investment. It is, of course, difficult to compare research programs in detail because of differences in program structure, definitions of telecommunications, and so forth. However, several examples of investments made outside the United States provide a compelling illustration of the high priority being placed on telecommunications R&D outside the United States. Major initiatives include the following:

  • The European Union Sixth Framework Programme includes nearly $300 million in funding for telecommunications research under the Information Society Technologies program: €138 million for mobile and wireless systems and “platforms beyond 3G,” €65 million for “broadband for all,” €63 million for “networked audiovisual systems and home platforms,” and €18 million for research networking testbeds.28

27

OECD, OECD Communications Outlook 2005, OECD Publishing, Paris, 2005, p. 75.

28

Budgets for 2004-2005 annual calls for proposals; see <http://www.cordis.lu/ist/activities/activities.htm>.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement