NSF’s Division of Science Resources Statistics

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telecommunications research activities do not fall neatly into programs labeled as “telecommunications” nor is telecommunications research funding across the U.S. government tracked as a separate category by NSF’s Division of Science Resources Statistics.

Within U.S. universities, there are multiple indications that much U.S. academic research in telecommunications is being carried out by foreign national graduate students. In the papers published in Globecom 2005, 459 of the 675 authors from U.S. universities (68 percent) have apparently Asian surnames. This observation is consistent with data showing that roughly 60 percent of the Ph.D.s in engineering and 50 percent of the Ph.D.s in computer science awarded in the United States are being awarded to non-U.S. citizens.
Government support for telecommunications research has been small compared with support for other areas of IT, arguably because of the spending on research by the Bell System (until divestiture) and by its progeny. Precise figures are, unfortunately, difficult to come by. Perhaps because telecommunications has not been considered a strategic area for investment, telecommunications research activities do not fall neatly into programs labeled as “telecommunications” nor is telecommunications research funding across the U.S. government tracked as a separate category by NSF’s Division of Science Resources Statistics.

However, a top-down indication of the level of investment can be obtained from Networking and Information Technology Research and Development: Supplement to the President’s Budget for FY2006,18 a report of the National Coordination Office for Networking and Information Technology Research and Development. It describes the networking and information technology research spending by its 11 participating agencies—NSF, NIH, DOE (Office of Science), NASA, DARPA, the National Security Agency, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,
NIST, NOAA, EPA, and DOE/National Nuclear Security Agency—that provide the bulk of federal research in these areas. The report divides federal research spending into seven categories—high-end computing infrastructure and applications, high-end computing RD, human computer interaction and information management, large-scale networking (LSN), software design and productivity, high-confidence software and systems, and social, economic, and workforce). The total research spending across these agencies and areas for FY 2006 is $2.1 billion, whereas for LSN—the area likely to contain the most telecommunications-related research—it is $328 million, or 16 percent of the total.

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