The telecommunications industry is the backbone of today’s mobile landscape, deploying voice, data, graphics and video at ever-increasing speeds and in a growing number of ways. Wireline telephone communication was once the primary service of the industry, but wireless communication and satellite distribution are becoming increasingly dominant. Specialists in telecommunications engineering are needed to keep up with this ever-changing fast-paced industry.
The basics of telecommunications
Telecommunications engineering is a discipline founded around the exchange of information across channels via wired or wireless means. It brings together all of the elements of electrical engineering, including computer engineering and system engineering, to create and improve telecommunication systems.
Telecom engineers work to develop, design and maintain voice and data communications systems, which include fiber, satellite, wired and unwired, as well as the encoding, encryption and compression of data. Put simply, telecommunications engineering can be found in just about every aspect of our lives, from GPS navigation to the internet.
The work of telecommunications engineers range from creating basic circuit designs to deploying wireless networks. They are responsible for designing and overseeing the installation of telecommunications equipment and facilities, such as complex electronic switching systems, copper wire telephone facilities, fiber optics cabling or internet protocol data systems.
Some of the main areas of focus for telecommunications engineers are the installation of high-speed broadband computer networks, and optical and wireless or satellite communications. To give a better idea of the scope of work a telecom engineer operates within, here are some career opportunities for individuals working within the discipline, according to the University of Texas at Dallas.
- Computer communications and networking;
- Mobile communications;
- Voice and data networks;
- TV and radio broadcasting;
- Optical networking;
- Remote sensing, measurement and control; and
- Next-generation networks.
Telecommunications engineers are part of every process of creating a telecom system, dealing with both software and hardware. Some roles a telecom engineer might take on:
Design – electronic components, software, products, or systems for commercial, industrial, medical, military or scientific applications;
Develop – maintenance and testing procedures for electronic components and equipment;
Test – Evaluate systems and recommend design modifications or equipment repair; and
Debug – Inspect electronic equipment, instruments and systems to make sure they are safe.
With “5G” and the expansion of the “internet of things” ahead, telecommunications engineering will be as important as ever. The discipline will help expand both Low-Power Wide-Area Networks and networks that produce data speeds never before seen. Telecom engineers will have the important task of ensuring that telecommunications systems, from small components to entire networks, are running as effectively and efficiently as possible.