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Renewing U.S. Telecommunications Research
TABLE 2.1 Sources of Papers Presented at the 2005 International Conference on Communications and the 2005 IEEE Global Telecommunications Conference (Globecom)
Number of Papers
Other (majority from Canada)
focus of 80 to 90 percent of research at the Bell family labs is now concentrated on short-term innovation rather than long-term fundamental research. Although a closer alignment of the interests of research laboratories and companies benefits U.S. industry, the often associated reduction in fundamental, long-term research hurts the telecommunications industry in the long run.
Decline in Industry Participation in Publishing Research
Additional evidence for the decline in research spending and the shift from longer- to shorter-term research in the U.S. telecommunications industry is seen in the number of technical papers authored by industry researchers. At two recent major international conferences held annually in the field of communications (which represent at least part of the telecommunications landscape), there was a dramatic decrease in the number of conference papers authored by industry researchers. Table 2.1 lists the sources of the 1352 papers presented at the 2005 International Conference on Communications (ICC) and the 2005 IEEE Global Telecommunications Conference (Globecom). Only a handful of U.S. industry research labs were represented by more than one paper at the two conferences (see Table 2.2).
Although it could be the case that U.S. telecommunications companies have decided to restrict presentations of work by their researchers (and developers) at such conferences, the committee considers it much more likely that the statistics on publication by author affiliation shown in Tables 2.1 and 2.2 do reflect a dramatic decline in industry efforts in long-term research.16
A decline in publication by industry authors is also suggested by the decreasing fraction of industry-researcher-authored papers in the IEEE Transactions on Communications (Figure 2.1),
A reviewer of this report in draft form noted another possible factor—that companies increasingly “document” their research through patents and participation in standards-setting activities rather than publications.