Telecom Research Areas for 2010

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Looking at the year ahead, I’m hoping to focus my research areas for telecoms around 3 broad topics: Comparative Analysis; Spectrum Issues; Canadian Telecom Policy.

Comparative Analysis

There’s no doubt of China’s growing importance to the global economy, with a massive domestic market still possessing a lot of growth potential and their manufacturing prowess driving down production costs. While there are huge differences between population sizes, political systems and levels of industrialization, both China and Canada currently have closed domestic telecom industries.

China has legitimate national security issues with letting Western telecom companies play a major role in developing Chinese infrastructure, in addition to the desire to maintain stricter control of communications for political purposes. China seems mostly interested in investment capital and technology transfers from Western companies, with very little strategic input and management control. Canada worries about letting foreign-controlled companies invest to help shield our smaller, domestic companies from larger competitors and for, lesser, cultural protection reasons.

My hope is to continue learning a little bit more about Chinese domestic telecommunication reform and apply that to my understanding of Canada’s telecom landscape.

Spectrum Issues

I remember reading an article during the latest round of spectrum auctions and allocations north and south of the 49th parallel that focused on what having more open spectrum would mean for technological development. WiFi, cordless phones, and Bluetooth devices were examples of technology that was made possible by people taking advantage of unlicensed spectrum. The article noted that these innovative technologies had a strong positive effective but were limited by the fact that the spectrum they used was so limited, with smaller ranges and an inability to penetrate walls.

I’m curious about what the potential economic benefits are of having more unlicensed spectrum and the impact it might have on a more innovative society. What are the limitations to such a system and the technical/safety concerns?

This area is likely to contain the most remedial learning portion of my research areas — I took chemistry in high school, not physics — but I think will play to my interest in startup communities.

Canadian Telecom Policy

Related to the comparative analysis, my intent is to deepen my understanding of domestic telecom issues. Entrance of new cellular companies to the Canadian market. The ongoing battle between broadcasters and cable companies. Potential changes to foreign ownership rules. Copyright issues and net neutrality. Mergers and acquisitions involving big ISPs and telecos. Canada’s global standing in connectivity rankings. And how are all levels of government looking to harness the power of mobile computing and telecommunications to deliver social, political and economic benefits to Canadian citizens.