The combination of digitization and mobility transformed telecommunications. There were both unforeseen innovations and costly dead ends. Capital flowed into the sector, but many of those investments were lost. Some of the missteps were policy-induced. Over time, network technology became more powerful, flexible, and reliable. Ultimately, smart phones replaced many telephones, while overall demand on the underlying network exploded.
The electricity grid (and also the natural gas system) has always been an engineering marvel. Now, digital communications, sensors, control systems, and new meters are setting the stage for a further transformation of the grid: Energy technology meets information technology. Coupled with foundational infrastructure investment, new technologies are making the system more reliable, more efficient, and more productive. Most of the public awareness is on the customer side of the meter. Most of the clearer near-term gains, however, tend to be on the utility side, as can be seen on the transmission system, where extensive deployments have been underway often for much longer.