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in technology to meet rising consumer expectations. However, the military may need to take special measures to field cost-effective, state-of-the-art untethered communications systems that meet defense requirements.

This chapter lays the foundation for an analysis of military needs in this area by chronicling the evolution of military and civilian applications of communications technology, from ancient times leading up to the horizon of 2010. Section 1.1 is an overview of the challenge facing the U.S. military. Section 1.2 provides an historical perspective on the development of communications infrastructures. Section 1.3 outlines the wireless systems currently used by the U.S. military and the related research and development (R&D) activities. Sections 1.4 through 1.7 recount the evolution and current status of commercial wireless systems. Section 1.8 compares the development paths for wireless technologies in the United States, Europe, and Japan.

1.1 Overview

In the final years of the twentieth century, all aspects of wireless communications are subject to rapid change throughout the world. Dimensions of change include the following:

Vigorously expanding public demand for products and services;

Dramatic changes worldwide in government policies regarding industry structure and spectrum management;

Rapidly advancing technologies in an atmosphere of uncertainty about the relative merits of competing approaches;

Emergence of a wide variety of new systems for delivering communications services to wireless terminals; and

Profound changes in communications industries as evidenced by an array of mergers, alliances, and spin-offs involving some of the world's largest corporations.

These changes are fueled by opportunities for profit and public benefit as perceived by executives, investors, and governments. Although the patterns are global, the details differ significantly from country to country. Each dimension of change is complex and all of them interact. Overall, the dynamic nature of wireless communications creates a mixture of confusion and opportunity for stakeholders throughout the world.

A principal attraction of wireless communications is its capability to serve mobile users. Because mobility is an important feature of military operations, the U.S. armed forces have always played a leading role in the development and deployment of wireless communications technology.



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