U.S. dependence on foreign sources of technology

Because the value of a network grows with the number of its users, network operators will seek to make their networks interoperable with those of other operators. Interoperation requires some degree of common technology, which means that many network innovations cannot be appropriated by a single player.Without renewed investment and resulting opportunities to do research, it will be very difficult to attract, train, and retain the research talent required for the United States to maintain a strong position in telecommunications.

Sustaining a base of researchers and research institutions is critical to the long-term health of a research discipline. Without adequate research funding, it will be hard to attract new students to the field, retain foreign students in the United States, provide critically needed support for postdoctoral researchers, or attract and develop new faculty and industrial researchers. U.S. critical infrastructure, national defense, and homeland security, which depend on having uninterrupted access to leading-edge telecommunications technology, are potentially threatened by the loss of a domestic telecommunications industry.

Without a continuing focus on telecommunications R&D, the United States will increasingly be forced to purchase telecommunications technology and services from foreign sources. Risks include (1) U.S. dependence on foreign sources of technology to meet critical defense needs; (2) loss of exclusive or early access to state-of-the-art communications technology; (3) loss of know-how to employ state-of-the-art technology; (4) opportunities for other nations to introduce security holes into equipment and networks; and (5) loss of technical capability for cyberdefense in such areas as cybersecurity, network assurance, and cryptography. U.S. telecommunications research has yielded tremendous direct and indirect returns.

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