In today’s telco, new technology is introduced every year. Not as a replacement for old technology but in addition to what went before. As a result, we are asking switch techs to understand bit errors on T1s, TCAP queries for toll-free calls and AMA format billing records, while at the same time becoming experts on jitter in IP networks, virtual machines and SD-WAN. Does anyone really understand all these things? Are we asking too much?
Always more to learn
Long-time readers will be familiar with my frustrations around TDM, which continues to form a significant part of our networks even as we start the third decade of the 21st century. Our stalled conversion to VoIP has many negative consequences, but we often forget the strain it places on central office technicians.
Instead of migrating their networks to VoIP, most telcos find themselves stalled, with networks that span two generations of technology. It’s been this way for a decade or more. Consequently we need CO techs who not only embrace VoIP and all the new hosted PBX and collaboration services BUT who are equally capable operating a TDM network that wouldn’t look out of place in 1990.
How can one switch tech be an expert in everything?
Given this challenging situation, a lot of telcos end up making compromises.
- Maybe your switch tech focuses on the TDM network and translations, and your IT guy looks after VoIP, despite not really having any experience in voice.
- Maybe your switch tech is able to learn everything at a surface level, but never has time to get the deep understanding he/she would prefer.
- Maybe you hired a great IP engineer and you’re hoping that the TDM network doesn’t break – because no-one understands how it works or how to fix it.
It would be great to have a team of experts. And for some larger telcos that’s the solution. But most independents don’t have that luxury. Often the switching team is just one or two people – and they can’t be experts on everything.
How does your organization cope with this issue? How do you assign responsibilities and provide training to help your switch techs be successful?
Drop me a line to share your experiences.