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The combined telephone, computer, and cable TV industry segments are referred to as the broader industry of telecommunications. Together they provide equipment and wired and/or wireless connections needed for communicating via telephone and connecting to the Internet. Some retail and service companies that provide access to phone and Internet services and sell equipment and accessories, such as phones, cell phones, tablets, and computers, are also considered part of the telecommunications industry.

Passage of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 deregulated the industry but had a limited impact. The ability to offer "universal service" remains restricted by regulations, particularly evident in rural and low-income communities. On the whole, however, telecommunications is a dynamic and growing industry, driven by widespread adoption of broadband Internet, cell phones, and Wi-Fi data transmission. The industry is engaged in a steady effort to keep up with advancing technology and consumer demands that requires regular upgrading and improvement of infrastructure, such as cell towers, fiber optic lines, and bandwidth.

These advances and improvements have reduced the need for traditional workers in this industry, such as electrical and electronics engineers and telecommunications equipment installers and repairers but increased demand for those with expertise in new technology. The telecommunications market remains very competitive. The largest cable and cell phone and data providers often go head to head to win customers and subscribers.

According to the Telecommunications Industry Association, U.S. telecommunications spending in 2015 was $1.5 trillion, an increase over the $1.2 trillion in 2012. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the industry employed more than 808,100 workers. Wireless carriers contributed more than $32 billion to the U.S. economy in 2015, according to a survey by CTIA—The Wireless Association.

Increasing demand for wireless communications and regular upgrading of wireless systems should help increase opportunities. To succeed, telecommunications companies must invest in new technology and equipment to offer the best services and products, opening opportunities for engineering, technical, and business professionals as well as marketing specialists with the abilities to sell and deliver the integrated, multifunctional, data-oriented systems that support modern communications.

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