Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 17th 2014 Contents A46
In other words: If you want to work in an industry that re-
quires you to learn fast and adapt quickly, this is it.
Telecommunications is a mammoth industry, comprising
companies that make hardware, produce software, and
provide services. Hardware includes a vast range of prod-
ucts that enable communication across the entire planet,
from video broadcasting satellites to telephone handsets to
fiber-optic transmission cables.
Services include running the switches that control the
phone system, providing Internet access, and configuring
private networks by which international corporations con-
Software makes it all work, from sending and receiving e-
mail to relaying satellite data to controlling telephone
switching equipment to reducing background noise on your
cell phone call.
The breakup of AT&T in 1984 created the modern
telecommunications industry, subjecting phone companies
to free-market forces for the first time. The long-distance
market became competitive almost immediately.
• CONVERGENCE CONFUSION
With each passing year, and each new generation of
products introduced in the marketplace, it's getting harder
and harder to pigeonhole companies and their products into
traditional categories like telecommunications, computer
hardware, and consumer electronics. Consider cell phones:
These days, cell phone users can use their phones to do
everything from take digital photographs and send and re-
ceive email to surf the 'Net, download and watch videos,
and transmit their geographic location via global positioning
system (GPS) technology. You tell us: Should cell phones
that do all that be called consumer electronics products?
Telecom products? Computer hardware products?
One result of convergence is that players in the con-
sumer electronics, computer hardware, and telecom sec-
tors are increasingly finding themselves competing
head-to-head to determine who will lead in brand-new
product categories such as wirelessly connected cell
phones. Turmoil, in the form of mergers and acquisitions
and fluctuations in profitability, is likely to result in each of
these industries as time passes.
• THE GROWTH OF WIRELESS
The wireless sector is growing like gangbusters. A De-
loitte Research report predicts that the number of wireless
connections made in 2006 will be some 500,000,000
greater than the number made in 2005. The launch of
dozens of 3G networks is leading to faster speeds, facilitat-
ing quicker downloads and improved service.
VoIP, or Voice over Internet Protocol, makes it possible to
send phone calls as data packets across the Internet and
other IP networks (such as private Local Area Networks, or
IM-based VoIP like Skype and Yahoo! IM), meaning phone
calls no longer have to travel through local phone company
lines. Quality, consistency, and reliability of VoIP do not
equal that of old-timey phone networks-but it's getting
And the price sure is right: like emails, VoIP-to-VoIP
phone calls are free-the only cost is the cost of your broad-
band Internet connection, which is typically a relatively
small, fixed, up-front cost.
There are currently some downsides to VoIP offerings
(while the phones usually continue to work even during
power outages, if your power goes out and you don't have
a generator, most VoIP users will be unable to make VoIP
phone calls-and most VoIP offerings do not support en-
cryption, so the security of VoIP phone calls can be ques-
tionable), but use of VoIP is growing all the time.
• SERVICE PROVIDERS
These companies provide local and long-distance wireline
telephone service. Industry insiders call this POTS, for plain
old telephone service. Wireline providers include the large
long-distance service providers. A new generation of com-
panies is laying fiber-optic wire networks to handle the rap-
idly increasing data traffic.
• WIRELESS SERVICE PROVIDERS
Marked by carrier consolidation and partnering to aug-
ment geographic reach and gain economies of scale, wire-
less communication services have shaken up the telecom
They have also brought telecommunications to the far
corners of the earth, including parts of Africa and South
America where there's no existing wireline infrastructure,
and have made markets far more competitive in the United
• SATELLITE TELECOMMUNICATION SERVICES
Satellite telecom services break down into fixed satellite
services such as Intelsat; low earth orbit companies (LEOs),
which include Globalstar and mega-LEO Teledesic (con-
trolled by Craig McCaw); direct broadcast satellite compa-
nies such as DirecTV; and the global positioning system
Satellite services include everything from navigation sys-
tems (such as those being included in the dash of some
new model vehicles) to video broadcast and data transmis-
• INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS (ISPS)
These consist of those companies that make it possible
for you to go online-Microsoft, AOL, Earthlink, and the
The Internet, which has become an integral part of the
telecommunications industry, is also the vehicle by which a
huge dose of talent and energy has been added to telecom
as voice and data networks converge.
Technically, telecommunications encompasses any
communication over a distance, be it via telephone,
television, radio, wireless network, computer net-
work, telemetry, or other means-but traditionally,
the term referred to telephone service. These days,
though, all these technologies and others are con-
verging-indeed, nowadays you can access the Inter-
net, play videos, or track your children's movements
via global positioning system (GPS) technology on
your cell phone-so the lines between telecommuni-
cations and other industries like computer hard-
ware and consumer electronics are getting blurrier
all the time.
"These days, cell phone users can
use their phones to do everything
from take digital photographs and
send and receive email to surf the
'Net, download and watch videos,
and transmit their geographic loca-
tion via global positioning system
(GPS) technology. You tell us:
Should cell phones that do all that
be called consumer electronics
products? Telecom products?
Computer hardware products?"
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