Reflection on 36 Years in The Telecoms Industry

On October 1st 2015 I completed 36 years in the Telecoms Industry. On that day in 1979 I turned up as a Trainee Accountant to start work with Post Office (Telecommunications). That predates BT, Buzby and Maureen Lipman adverts about ‘ologies.

At that time never mind no email, internet or mobile phones we had no voicemail, PCs or push button phones. Call transfer meant passing over the handset. They were just introducing electronic exchanges but there were still plenty of the old noisy Strowger exchanges housed in multi story buildings. There were thousands of operators manually connecting calls.

In a generation and a bit that has all changed or has it.

Mobile phones started as bricks, got so small you could barely read the screen and now are expanding again to a size they don’t fit in a top pocket. Although the days of your mobile lasting 5 days on a single charge seems to remain a dim and distant memory.

You can now buy phone lines from hundreds of companies but still have to wait for a BT engineer to turn up – maybe.

Fibre broadband is rapidly reducing the costs for businesses connectivity enabling the growth of technologies such as SIP and VoIP. Trouble is the priority areas are residential so people can watch Netflix. Large swathes of central London still only have slow bog standard ADSL.

Some things don’t change – I recall working on a project in the 1980s to use artificial intelligence (then called expert systems) to reduce telecom fraud and although the techniques may have changed it remains an issue of which many companies fall foul.

Sadly also the growth of suppliers and increase in technology complexity has inevitably led to the growth of scams and tricks that less scrupulous companies have used to fleece unsuspecting businesses. Ofcom has now started to levy some fines but still a lot to be done.

With the accelerating rate of change probably what has taken 36 years to occur will probably now be repeated in less than 10. Certainly that is when BT has announced ISDN will have ended and maybe just maybe my phone will last over a day on a single charge. But that might be expecting too much