Some Favorite Telecom Resources

Hello, telecom industry friends, former colleagues and contacts, and other readers.

As you know, it’s been a decade since I was last firmly ensconced in the telecom industry, at least to the extent it doesn’t overlap with the tech/IT industry, but it still represents a majority of my career, and I devour the latest news about it to stay abreast of developments. I don’t, however, blog about it consistently – as this is a side-project labor-of-love for me, I don’t blog about any telecom or tech concept consistently – so while I do hope you subscribe to this blog to allow my thoughts on topics of shared interest to find their way into your inbox, I thought it only fair to share a few of my favorite resources and encourage you to partake of them, too. To keep this short, I’ll start with three. Perhaps I’ll write a few sequels to this post in the future to help spread the wealth.

POTs and PANs

First up is POTs and PANs, the cleverly-named blog from CCG Consulting. With thoughts that seem to flow straight off the top of Doug Dawson’s head, this blog contains a wide range of telecom insights, thoughts on news events, and other well-considered, detailed musings of interest to telecom folks. A lot of them focusing on rural telecom, given Doug’s background. I met Doug early in my telecom career, at my very first job after grad school, and he was already an all-knowing telecom industry guru, a consultant widely revered in the industry with a seeming grasp of every nuance of the rural telecom industry in which I worked at the time.

In any case, POTs and PANs is always a fascinating read, at least if you’re interested in thinking deeply about the issues surrounding the telecom industry. And, of course, I am. Whether he’s writing about what’s happening at the FCC (“FCC to Tackle Rural Call Completion”), consumer trends in the industry (“Prices are Driving Cord Cutting”), wireless developments (“5G Cellular for Home Broadband?”), or more philosophical issues (“Public Networks and Privacy”), Doug’s writing in POTs and PANs is always a good read. It’s always time well-spent.

CommScope Blog

There aren’t a lot of large product vendor blogs that regularly hold my interest, but CommScope‘s blog is a rare exception. The topics span a broad range of tech and telecom, but it’s more than once that I’ve set aside one of CommScope’s articles to read later. (This is an advantage of subscribing to blogs via e-mail – they’re easier to time-shift. I find I return more often to a blog I’ve left in my inbox than to a link I’ve bookmarked.) Some of the definitional posts, for example, have remained set aside in an Outlook folder I return to periodically for years because they allow me to review the basics of topics I commonly encounter, particularly helpful to use as a starting point for discussions with those less familiar, but also useful in reviewing subject I circle back to infrequently. Articles I’ve set aside include “What is PON?” and “What is NFV?” Also helpful has been “Getting to Know Our Fiber Acronyms.” In addition, the CommScope Blog touches upon current trends, from technological trends, as covered in this post about 400 GbE, “The Next Big Thing in Cloud Data Center Networking”, to geographic technology trends, as noted in “How the MEA Can Embrace the Status Quo.”

Indeed, this blog uses many authors to cover a broad range of topics of interest to telecom and technology, from fiberoptics to wireless to satellite, often focused on the technology, serving up both the basics (because telecom is a big industry, and while we’re all experts in one or a few fiefdoms, we all benefit from some exposure to the other areas via articles written simply enough for us to understand) and the more detailed analysis. I subscribe to several vendor blogs, but I frequently notice how many of the posts that hold my interest come from CommScope’s.

Stephen Hardy’s Friday 5

If you know me, you know I don’t like streaming videos. The information is never provided at the pace or level of detail I want. They’re impossible to skim. I always prefer my information in text format, and if a website insists on auto-starting videos, since I surf with the sound off, I only notice if those videos cause the pages to load slowly or periodically freeze, and when that happens I find my information on a different website.

With all that lead-in, surprisingly, I actually enjoy Stephen Hardy’s Friday 5. It probably helps that I know Stephen. For my last couple years at KMI, it was owned by the same parent company as Lightwave. Of course, he’s still with Lightwave, currently serving as its Editorial Director and Associate Publisher.

Then again, that’s not really the point. Personal acquaintance can hardly overcome my disdain for receiving my information via video, but the Friday 5 is quick, to-the-point, and summarizes five stories that are actually interesting from the previous week. And the stories are fiberoptics-focused, which is one of my personal sweet spots within the telecom industry, so there’s that. The videos are about 5 minutes long, meaning there’s an average of a minute devoted to each story.

A recent Friday 5, the one from June 22nd, using the 5‘s countdown format, covered: 5) a cloud infrastructure spending market report, 4) a change in Fiber Broadband Association leadership, 3) Huawei faces national security concerns in Australia, 2) a change in ONF strategy, and 1) a research report predicting a decline in transceiver sales revenue as a result of ZTE issues. And that’s a typical weekly range of issues covered.

I don’t go to the Friday 5 web home, to which I’ve linked above, every week “unprovoked,” as it were. No, one of the Lightwave e-newsletters I receive directs me to it. But I do enjoy it… the once or twice a month I decide I’m in the mood for information via video. Given my predisposition toward text, that’s pretty darn good.

Conclusion

Those are three of my favorite telecom industry news sources. And as I was writing this, I thought of at least three more. Maybe I will provide a second installment later this year. For now, hopefully I’ve helped you find some new, interesting informational resources. I would recommend subscribing to those other sources if you’re a telecom industry geek like me. I’m sure you already receive my blog in your inboxes… don’t you?

Learning the Basics: Fiberoptics Webcast and Small Cell Definitions

How many of us have the time to keep current (or refresh our knowledge) on telecom topics that don’t affect our daily work?  I’ve recently had a couple of opportunities to improve my knowledge – one a webcast about a telecom technology, the other a blog post that helps define a newly hot market segment – that I’d like to share with you.

First, I can’t believe that it has been more than a decade since I last worked directly in the fiberoptics industry.  (My years working in the fiberoptics for KMI are also the reason I’ll always write “fiberoptics” as one word rather than two.)  Last week, I refreshed my knowledge of fiber basics by watching a “Fundamentals of Fiber Optics” webcast.  Available on-demand here on the Lightwave website, the presentation by The Light Brigade’s founder Larry Johnson serves as a solid one-hour primer covering the basics of how fiberoptics works.  Very worth viewing as a sort of refresher if you haven’t worked with the basics of fiberoptics for a while (as was my case) or if you’ve not been directly working with the theory of how fiberoptics work for a while.  Also a great introduction – something that might be worth sharing with newbies in your company.

The other interesting discovery this past week – this one definitional in nature – comes courtesy of CommScope’s blog.  Recently, I had been seeing a flurry of news articles about small cells.  This doesn’t affect my daily work, so I was comfortable with my general understanding of what small cells seemed to be, but in the back of my head I had thought I should someday devote a little time to Googling small cells just to make sure I wasn’t misunderstanding what I was reading.  Then, earlier this week, CommScope’s June 2nd blog post of “What Exactly Is a Small Cell?” found its way to my inbox.  Adapted from Pankaj Gandhi’s May 22nd post on ETTelecom’s TeleTalk blog (Small Cells: The solution to telcos’ network capacity challenges), this post serves as a nice starting point in accelerating my understanding.  Indeed, in it, Gandhi says “Small cells or small cellular base stations encompass a number of different technologies but one could describe them as anything that’s not a typical macro site.”  I’d suggest reading the entire blog post for more detail.

It’s always nice to find some shortcuts that help maintain or upgrade our understanding of the industry in which we work (and adjoining industries). I hope those two resources above are of assistance to you.  Please do feel free to share other educational resources, either by e-mail to me directly or in the comment section below.

Finally, before I close, I’ll add one more “learning tool.”  I don’t plan to make a note about this again; just, since so most of my readers right now are people I already know (industry friends, former colleagues, and contacts, many of whom don’t spend a lot of time reading blogs), I thought I’d share “how to sign up for blog e-mails.”   Look for the “Follow” button in the bottom right-hand corner of your browser window.  If you click that button, you can sign up to have my blog sent to your inbox whenever I update it.  As you can see, I don’t blog that often.  I can’t imagine it will ever be more than once a day, almost certainly not even that often, so I won’t fill your inbox.  Anyway, if you sign up for the e-mails, you won’t have to periodically click on your bookmark to my blog to see what I have to say.  (I also tweet on Twitter and pin a link to Pinterest whenever I add a new blog post, but you know how quickly those messages get lost in the feed, so e-mail is often the best way to make sure you receive each post.)