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major architectural advances

Fostering the conception, development, and implementation of major architectural advances. ATRA would place a priority on research that aims to make possible major architectural advances that result in the development of dramatically new telecommunications capabilities (such as the Internet was when it was developed) rather than incremental improvements to existing capabilities.

Strengthening the nation’s telecommunications research capacity by building up research groups, centers, and institutions with sufficient scale and breadth of expertise to tackle real-world problems and by strengthening connections between the industry and academic communities and among the telecommunications, semiconductor, and computer segments of the IT industry. To provide major experimental facilities useful to but beyond the capabilities of individual university research groups or firms, ATRA would consider establishing and supporting an experimental infrastructure for such activities as fabrication, prototyping, and testing.

Roadmapping would be a useful tool for (1) establishing research priorities, (2) identifying complementary investments and actions required to realize major advances, and (3) examining the interplay between technical, business, and policy considerations. ATRA could serve as both a neutral convener and a partial source of funding for such activities, perhaps learning from the role played by SEMATECH with respect to the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS)—see Chapter 4 for a discussion of both SEMATECH and ITRS.

Long-term investments are required to realize the sorts of innovation contemplated in connection with ATRA. It would likely take at least 5 years to develop a major advance (such as a superior replacement architecture for the Internet) and several more years to see that design reflected in products and services in the market. But history shows that a well-conceived research program yields numerous payoffs, including shorter-term advances and unforeseen long-term benefits.

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