PHY Research Is Sick but Curable: An Empirical Analysis

The controversy and argument on the usefulness of the physical layer (PHY) academic research for wireless communications are long-standing since the cellular communication paradigm gets to its maturity. In particular, researchers suspect that the performance improvement in cellular communications is primarily attributable to the increases in telecommunication infrastructure and radio spectrum instead of the PHY academic research, whereas concrete evidence is lacking. To respond to this controversy from an objective perspective, we employ econometric approaches to quantify the contributions of the PHY academic research and other performance determinants. Through empirical analysis and the quantitative evidence obtained, albeit preliminary, we shed light on the following issues: 1) what determines the cross-national differences in cellular network performance; 2) to what extent the PHY academic research and other factors affect cellular network performance; 3) what suggestions we can obtain from the data analysis for the stakeholders of the PHY research. To the best of our knowledge, this article is the first `empirical telecommunication research,' and the first effort to involve econometric methodologies to evaluate the usefulness of the PHY academic research.