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Working Paper

Introduction: Some General Thoughts on Sources and Methodology

The page below documents the substance of my research, but I thought it might be helpful to start with some reflections on methodology.

In general, my research went from technology, to business/economics, to law, only reaching the specific questions we're interested in after a few weeks of background orientation. I found access to an engineering library to be essential for the first phase, in order to get a general sense of what the building blocks of networks are and what the broad areas of recent innovation have been.

As I began to look at the business and economics, I found B-school cases to provide invaluable general context, though they play a little too fast and loose with the details to be helpful with specifics. Through other work I also happened to have access to some pretty great analyst overviews as well as opportunities to have direct conversations with some of the leading analysts who research the field for institutional investors, and if you can get those they can be pure gold. Reading the annual reports of some of the large actors also proved surprisingly helpful.

Once I had a general sense of the players on the field, I moved onto the specifics of the legal models and dynamics of IP. I suspect that the Carnegie Melon and PACE studies will be touchstones for all our research areas, as they were for me. I also found articles in practitioners' legal periodicals (as distinguished form traditional law reviews) to be helpful. My sense is that these articles provide a useful insider's impressionistic perspective of industry dynamics that can be lacking from traditional law review articles. There was a lot of other secondary academic empirical research, but I honestly haven't find that much beyond the Carnegie Mellon and PACE studies that I found particularly helpful.

Various previously published case studies and news articles about specific companies and transactions provided the examples that filled out the legal section of the overview. I found these to be very helpful, but I also tried to be very cautious about drawing too many conclusions from just a few high profile examples, which I think is an easy trap.

Field Definition

Basic Definition

"The word 'telecommunications,' a twentieth century amalgam of Greek and Latin roots, literally means the art of conveying information 'from a distance.' . . . Today, although precise definitions differ, 'telecommunications' is broadly defined as the transmission of information by means of electromagnetic signals: over copper wires, coaxial cable, fiber-optic strands, or the airwaves." (Neuchterlein & Weiser 2007, at 1-2)

Taxonomy of Telecommunications Industries

Focus Market Segments

  • Wireline
  • Cable
  • Commercial Wireless (Cell Phone)
  • Unlicensed Wireless Data (esp. 802.11)
  • Internet-Based Communications Platforms

Deprioritized Market Segments

  • Satellite MVPD
  • Broadcast TV
  • Broadcast Radio
  • Satellite Radio
  • Other Wireless (public safety radios, dispatch radios, maritime communication, cordless phones, etc.)

Excluded From Field Definition

  • Pure Content, including:
    • Television, or Radio Programmers (Other than Broadcast Networks, which are in a vertically integrated distribution-and-content businesses)
    • Online Content Platforms (vs. Communications Platforms) (e.g. Hulu, iTunes, Netflix). We also place user-generated content platforms like YouTube and Wikipedia in this category, although arguably they have a communications dimension.

Background Research and Resources


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