As supported by the horizontally homogeneous layered infrastructure, applications of various sorts increasingly incorporate telecommunications as only one capability among many. For example telephony, as it evolves into the Internet world, is beginning to offer a host of new data-based features and integrates other elements of collaboration (e.g., visual material or tools for collaborative authoring). Another important trend is machine-to-machine communication at a distance, and so it cannot be assumed that telecommunications applications exclusively involve people.
Like telecommunications itself, the telecommunications industry is broader than it was in the past. It encompasses multiple service providers, including telephone companies, cable system operators, Internet service providers, wireless carriers, and satellite operators. The industry today includes software-based applications with a communications emphasis and intermediate layers of software incorporated into end-to-end communication services. It also includes suppliers of telecommunications equipment and software products sold directly to consumers and also to service providers, as well as the telecommunications service providers. The descriptions of layers were adapted from the Open Systems Interconnect Reference Model (ISO 7498-1), which provides a useful tool for conceptualizing network layers.
The term “telecommunications” takes on a particular significance with respect to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and implementing regulations. The broad definition adopted here is intended solely to capture the scope of relevant research, not to make any statement about what technologies and services should or should not be considered telecommunications for regulatory purposes.themselves. It includes companies selling components or intellectual property predominately of a communication flavor, including integrated circuit chip sets for cell phones and cable and digital subscriber line (DSL) modems.
No longer a vertically integrated business, the telecommunications industry is enabled by a complex value chain that includes vendors, service providers, and users. The telecommunications value chain begins with building blocks such as semiconductor chips and software.
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