Advances in Telecommunications Technologies That May Affect the Location of Business Activities

by Leland Johnson

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This Note describes developments in telecommunications that may have a special bearing on choices about geographical location for business activities, and it offers some thoughts about possible broader effects on society. The study addresses six major areas to illustrate the evolution and growth of telecommunications services relevant to locational decisions: (1) aggregate measures of telecommunications growth, (2) computer-to-computer communications, (3) facsimile transmission, (4) software-defined networks, (5) "800" telephone service, and (6) teleconferencing. The use of telecommunications can have surprising or unanticipated effects: relocations encouraged by telecommuting could increase the demand for automobile transportation as a substitute for mass transit, as well as place other new demands on the economic infrastructure. The author recommends rigorous empirical analysis of the determinants of locational choices and the role played by telecommunications.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Note series. The note was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1979 to 1993 that reported other outputs of sponsored research for general distribution.

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