The full impact of these trends on long-term telecommunications research is probably not yet evident, as the industry continues to exploit fundamental knowledge gained over the past
This phenomenon is not new. See, for example, Rosenbloom et al., Engines of Innovation, Harvard Business School Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1996
several decades. The concern is that without substantial renewed investment in fundamental, long-term telecommunications research, the United States will eventually consume its own intellectual “seed corn” and thus run out of new ideas within the next decade or perhaps even sooner.
For roughly a century, the U.S. telecommunications infrastructure was largely defined by the Bell System, a telephony monopoly regulated under a series of consent decrees that gave it the right to operate, maintain, and expand the U.S. telephone system. The chief research and development arm of the Bell System, Bell Laboratories, was created in 1925, following demonstration in 1915 of the feasibility of coast-to-coast long-distance service and realization of the importance of a viable research and development laboratory to effective deployment. Successful nationwide implementation of long-distance service required, for example, a device with sufficient gain to offset the signal losses in the 3000-mile stretch of the U.S. transcontinental cable. The development of the vacuum tube amplifier for use in telephone circuits, which started in the 1910s, took many years of fundamental research and required extremely close cooperation between the research community that had originally invented the vacuum tube technology and the development community that introduced the vacuum tube amplifier into the telephone network.
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