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Renewing U.S. Telecommunications Research
degrees and, in the experience of the committee, infrequently serve as a pathway into a career in telecommunications research.
As noted in other sections of this report, discussion of telecommunications issues must now be framed within the current context of global competition among numerous multinational organizations—and this is certainly the case with respect to producing and retaining talented researchers. As the developing world’s educational institutions grow stronger, there is an increased capacity for leading-edge research and development work abroad. This growing educational capacity combined with improving worldwide telecommunications capabilities and lower wages in developing countries creates pressure for U.S. and other firms to move more of their research and development and other high-skill jobs outside the United States. In addition, as academic and industry research opportunities in the United States begin to lag those in other countries, foreign students who are studying in the United States will be more likely to return to their home countries and participate in the creation of telecommunication networks and services of the future there rather than in the United States.
The solution is for the United States to continue to innovate and ensure adequate research support and research opportunities, especially for younger researchers. Leadership in research and education is crucial for the maintenance of a technically literate workforce capable of filling all of the positions across the telecommunications ecosystem—including reliable software developers, application writers, engineers, systems engineers, researchers, teachers, and so on. If U.S. research remains at the forefront, U.S. students will be exposed to the next generation of technologies earlier than the rest of the world. However, the necessary leadership and an adequate level of talent for telecommunications research can be sustained only if a healthy U.S. university research system exists. Renewed investment and resulting opportunities will make it possible to attract, train, and retain the research talent required for the United States to maintain a strong position in telecommunications.