Telecommunications Industry

Significant Points

* Telecommunications includes voice, video, and Internet communications services.
* Despite increasing demand for telecommunications services, employment will decline as productivity increases rapidly.
* With rapid technological changes in telecommunications, those with up-to-date technical skills will have the best job opportunities.
* Average earnings in telecommunications greatly exceed average earnings throughout private industry.

Nature of the Industry

Goods and services:

The telecommunications industry delivers telephone, television, Internet, and other services to customers throughout the world. Providing the primary means of communication to virtually all businesses, households, and individuals, telecommunications firms supply an essential service to the U.S. economy. In addition to offering traditional services such as wired phone and cable TV, telecommunications companies also offer services such as cellular phone, broadband and mobile Internet, and satellite TV, among others.

Industry organization:

The telecommunications industry is divided into four main sectors: wired, wireless, satellite, and other telecommunications establishments. The largest sector of the telecommunications industry continues to be made up of wired telecommunications carriers. Establishments in this sector mainly provide telecommunications services such as such as wired (landline) telephone, digital subscriber line (DSL) Internet, and cable TV and Internet services. These organizations route TV, voice, Internet, data, and other content over a network of wires and cables, and control access to this content. They may own and maintain networks, share networks with other organizations, or lease network capacity from other companies.

Establishments in the telecommunications industry, however, do not create the content that is transmitted over their networks, such as TV programs. (Establishments that create television programming are described in the Career Guide sections on the broadcasting and motion picture and video industries). Wired telecommunications also includes direct-to-home satellite television distributors and a variety of other businesses.

Wireless telecommunications carriers provide telephone, Internet, data, and other services to customers through the transmission of signals over networks of radio towers. The signals are transmitted through an antenna directly to customers, who use devices, such as cell phones and mobile computers, to receive, interpret, and send information. A large component of this industry segment consists of companies that provide cellular phone service, which has grown rapidly over the past decade. Another component includes establishments that deliver mobile Internet services to individuals with Internet-enabled cellular phones and computers.

Satellite telecommunications establishments are made up mostly of government and private organizations that transmit a variety of data through satellites, including photos of the earth, messages to and from public safety officials, and a variety of other information. Direct-to-home satellite TV providers, however, are classified with wired telecommunications.

Other sectors in the telecommunications industry include telecommunications resellers, as well as operators of other communication services ranging from radar stations to radio networks used by taxicab companies.

Recent developments:

Telecommunications carriers are expanding their data transmission capabilities, known as “bandwidth,” by replacing copper wires with fiber optic cables. Fiber optic cable, which transmits light signals along glass strands, permits faster, higher capacity transmissions than traditional copper wire. In some areas, carriers are extending fiber optic cable to residential customers, enabling them to offer cable television, video-on-demand, faster high-speed Internet, and conventional telephone communications over a single line.

Wireless telecommunications carriers are deploying several new technologies to allow faster data transmission and better Internet access in an effort to make them more competitive in a market that includes wired Internet carriers. With faster connection speeds, wireless carriers can transmit music, videos, applications, and other content that can be downloaded and played on cellular phones, giving users mobile access to large amounts of data. In addition, as use of this mobile technology increases, wireless companies continue to develop the next generation of technologies that will allow even faster data transmission.

Source: bls.gov, telecomsale.info, chairmanking.com, technexxus.com, boeing.com

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