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With The Essential Guide to Telecommunications, Second Edition, you will get an understanding of telecommunications - even if you have no technical background at all. Leading consultant Annabel Z. Dodd teaches you everything you must know to understand the telecommunications industry.. "Most importantly, Dodd offers crucial insights into the fast-changing competitive landscape, including local competition, Internet access, and the impact of new technologies.
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Editorial Reviews

Jack Woehr

The Essential Guide to Telecommunications, Second Edition, by Annabel Dodd, enters my workspace serendipitously. I'm currently contracted to US West (or "US QWest" as the office wag has taken to calling it), so I'm in some position to benefit from the perusal of this volume and to evaluate its content. Executive summary: It's a professional and accurate volume suitable to be presented to novice employees their first day on the job at any company whose core business involves stuffing bits up the line.

There's metal in this book. At a high level, Dodd provides overviews of the myriad of empowering technologies that are heaped together into the telecommunications grid of this continent and our planet. The discussion ranges over switched services, dedicated services, signaling, T-1 to T-3, ISDN, DSL, Frame Relay, ATM, SONET, lines, modems, set-top boxes, the Internet, virtual private networks, PCS, wireless and mobile, satellites, convergence (of telephone and PC, not harmonic), and a good deal more.

There's also wetware interest here. Politics are inseparable from technical evaluation of the network. Legislatures and regulatory bodies dictate to the carriers in the name of preserving the public interest within institutions that inherently possess tremendous powers over access. The Essential Guide contains sections on "Local and Long Distance Providers,""The Bell System Prior to and After 1984," "Evolution from CAPs to CLECs," and a whole chapter on "Local Competition and The Telecommunications Act of 1996." Dodd allows herself a few judicious observations into social implications, such as the effects that merger mania and "cream skimming" are likely to have on universal service. Al Gore even makes a couple of appearances in quotation.

The Essential Guide is pretty current. The map of the surviving RBOCs correctly shows US West's 14-state region, accompanied by the (now erroneous) legend "Purchase by Global Crossing, Ltd. pending)." Which goes to show you that the industry holds surprises even for the experts.

The glossary is adequate in relation to the book, though the bibliography is a little too sparse for a second edition. There's no paucity of telecommunications literature; having delved (for instance) into SONET in sufficient detail to note sideband signaling, the author might have deigned to cite a few tech pieces on this and other protocols, rather than merely list eight other telecom overview books.

Dodd seems to have progressed from industry to academia, rather than the other way around. Her professional bio, (former marketing manager at Bell Atlantic, current faculty member at Northeastern University) suggests that her insights may have been arrived at empirically rather than in the ivory tower. Her book accurately imparts the freighted technical context and dynamic economic and social ambiance of the telecommunications industry in these exiting times from the perspective of a well-informed and technically astute insider. It's a good read.
Electronic Review of Computer Books

Provides an understanding of telecommunications for those with no technical background. Overviews technologies, explains the structure of the telecommunications industry, and profiles industry segments and vendor types. Technologies important in competition for local calling, high-capacity communication, and Internet access are clarified. Intertwined with technical explanations are examples of how the various vendors interconnect their networks. For nontechnical people working in telecommunications, and for people responsible for the administration of telecommunications services for their organizations. The author is affiliated with Northeastern University. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780130142955
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional Technical Reference
  • Publication date: 7/15/1999
  • Series: Essential Guide Series
  • Edition description: Older Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 365
  • Product dimensions: 6.97 (w) x 9.17 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Annabel Z. Dodd is a faculty member at Northeastern University's State-of-the-Art Program, where she teaches telecommunications for the non-technical. Formerly a marketing manager at Bell Atlantic and telecommunications manager at a Fortune 500 company, she is a top telecom consultant and a popular speaker on telecommunications issues.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Basic Concepts

This chapter defines basic telecommunications terms. Terms such as analog, digital and bandwidth are used in the context of services that touch the everyday work experiences of professionals. Understanding fundamenatal terminology creates a basis for learning about advanced telecommunications services. A grasp of such fundamental concepts as digital, analog, bandwidth, compression, protocols, codes and bits, provides a basis for comprehending technologies such as high speed digital services, convergence and wireless networks. These technologies, in addition to the Internet, are changing the way Americans do business, spawning new telecommunications services and creating a smaller, linked, worldwide community.

Protocols are an important ingredient in enabling computers to communicate with each other. Protocols may be likened to etiquette between computers. Just as etiquette spells out who shakes hands first, how people greet each other and rules for how guests should leave parties, protocols spell out the order in which computers take turns transmitting and how long computers should wait before they terminate a transmission. Protocols handle functions such as error correction, error detection and file transmissions in a common manner so that computers can "talk" to each other. A computer sends data to another computer using a protocol such as IPX, Novell NetWare's protocol designed for communications between local area networks (LANs).

Computers, printers and devices from different vendors also need to be able to send information such as electronic mail and attachments across networks. This is the role of architectures and protocol suites. Architectures tie computers and peripherals together into a coherent whole. Layers within architectures have protocols that define functions such as routing, error checking and addressing. The architecture or protocol suite is the umbrella under which the protocols and devices communicate with each other.

Computers located in firms' offices are physically connected together by local area networks (LANs), which are located within a building or in a campus environment. LANs connect computers, printers, scanners and shared devices such as modems, video conferencing units and facsimile units. LANs are connected to other LANs over metropolitan area networks (MANs), and wide area networks (WANs). The growing number of devices and peripherals on LANs is adding congestion to data networks. Workers encounter network congestion when there are delays in transmission and receipt of, for example, e-mail and database look-ups. This chapter reviews why there is congestion on local area networks and ways companies can eliminate this congestion.

One solution to traffic jams on wide area networks is the use of multiplexing. Multiplexing enables multiple devices to share one telephone line. For example, T-1 provides 24 communications paths on one high-speed link. Newer multiplexing schemes add even more capacity. T-3 provides 672 communications paths on one telecommunications link. These multiplexing schemes provide private and non-profit organizations with ways to carry increasing amounts of data, video and imaging traffic between sites. T-3 is an important way for large call centers, such as airlines, to handle large volumes of incoming calls.

Another way to add capacity for applications such as graphics, x-ray images and Internet-based video is the use of compression. Compression squeezes large amounts of data into smaller sizes, something like putting data into a corset. As a matter of fact, the availability of affordable video conferencing systems is made possible by advances in compression. Compression makes the video images "fit" onto slower speed telephone lines than those required without compression. Before advances in compression were developed, the high-speed telecommunications lines needed for video conferencing were prohibitively expensive.

Compression has made a major impact on the nature of the Internet, particularly its use in streaming media. The Internet is no longer a place for only text and graphics. Compression in combination with more powerful computers and faster modems is making it possible to hear reasonable quality audio over the Internet. The quality of video over the Internet will continue to improve as higher speed digital telephone lines become more prevalent.


The public telephone network was originally designed for voice telephone calls. The telegraph, invented in 1840, was used for short text messages. When the telephone was invented in 1876, it was used to transmit speech. Spoken words are transmitted as analog sound waves. People speak in an analog format, waves. Telephone calls were transmitted in an analog form until the late 1960s. While much of the public telephone network is now digital, there are still many analog services in use, and portions of the telephone network are analog. The majority of telephones that plug into home telephone jacks are analog instruments. Most TV signals and telephone lines from homes to the nearest telephone company equipment are analog, as are cable TV drops, the cabling portions from subscribers to their nearest telephone pole.

As more people use their computers to communicate, and as calling volume increases, the analog format, designed for lower volumes of voice traffic, is proving inefficient. Digital signals are faster, have more capacity and contain fewer errors than analog waves.

High-speed telecommunications signals sent on ISDN service, within computers, via fiber optic lines and between most telephone company offices, are digital. With the exception of most current TV and portions of cable TV wiring, analog services are used for slow-speed transmissions. Analog services are mainly plain old telephone service (POTS) lines used by residential and small business customers.

Analog Signals

Frequency on Analog Services

Analog signals move down telephone lines as electromagnetic waves. The way analog signals travel is expressed in frequency. Frequency refers to the number of times per second that a wave oscillates or swings back and forth in a complete cycle from its starting point to its end point. A complete cycle, as illustrated in Figure 1. 1, occurs when a wave starts at a zero point of voltage, goes to the highest positive part of the wave, down to the negative voltage portion and then back to zero. The higher the speed or frequency, the more complete cycles of a wave are completed in a period of time. This speed or frequency is stated in hertz (Hz). For example, a wave that oscillates or swings back and forth ten times per second has a speed of ten hertz or cycles per second.....

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Basic Concepts
Chapter 2: Telephone Systems and Cabling
Chapter 3: Network Service Provider
Chapter 4: Local Competition and The Telecommunications Act of 1996
Chapter 5: The Public Network
Chapter 6: Specialized Network Services
Chapter 7: Modems & Access Devices
Chapter 8: The Internet
Chapter 9: Convergence
Chapter 10: Wireless Services
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In the twenty-two months between writing the first and second editions of this book, enormous changes occurred in telecommunications. The growing importance of the Internet and the rise of convergence are the most notable of these. Technology in the form of higher capacity fiber optic networks and faster processors hastened these developments and lowered the cost of building new networks.

The Internet and the lure of competition for local services have attracted large sums of money from investors. This money has been used to form new companies and promote mergers between network providers. Moreover, the world has become smaller. Network providers are expanding beyond their traditional territories. Local telephone companies are no longer strictly local-cable TV and utility companies are expanding into telecommunications and long distance providers are becoming local providers. In addition, many companies are attempting to establish a worldwide presence.

The Essential Guide to Telecommunications, Second Edition presents profiles of industry segments and vendor types to provide readers with an understanding of the industry. The increase in the number of network providers, the growing role of resellers and the fast pace of mergers has created new layers of complexity. The roles of Internet Service Providers, backbone Internet providers, competitive local exchange carriers and cable TV companies are explained. In addition, regulatory rulings and the Telecommunications Act of 1996 are examined in light of their impact on consumers, commercial organizations and carriers.

The language and significance of important telecommunications technologies is explored. The EssentialGuide to Telecommunications, Second Edition is not intended to be a deeply technical book. Rather, it is an overview of technologies and an explanation of the structure of the telecommunications industry. Technologies important in competition for local calling, high-capacity communications and Internet access are clarified. Intertwined with high-level technical explanations are examples of how the various vendors interconnect their networks.

This book is intended for non-technical people working in the field of telecommunications, laymen interested in learning more about the field, and for people responsible for the administration of telecommunications services for their organizations. They include regulatory staff, salespeople, law firms, research organizations, marketing personnel, human resources professionals, project managers, telecommunications managers and high-level administrators.

The Essential Guide to Telecommunications, Second Edition starts out with interpretations of fundamental concepts so that readers will have a basis for understanding more complex, new telecommunications services. It explores the structure of the industry, local competition, regulatory proceedings, the Internet, convergence and wireless services.

Along with explanations of technology are examples of applications and historical highlights. How the industry evolved and how the technology changed is also explored. The stories and descriptions that accompany the technical details are key to the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 16, 2001

    Great book! Easy reading while providing substance.

    I read the first edition of this book and found it very helpful. I recommend this book to all of my CCNA and CCNP students (adults). It provides a vast amount of information in an interesting and easy to read form.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2000

    Telecom Intro

    Magnificent! Perfect example of a Technology book everyone can relate too. After finishing this one, I was desperately looking for any other technology book written by this author, couldn't find any. Looking forward to find more books from this Author..

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