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November - 2007 - issue > Tech Recruiter
Take your call A telecom career beckons
Priya Pradeep
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Telecom engineers are no longer needed only to ensure that customers can make or receive calls. In India, after the 1994 deregulation in communication networks, the telecom sector has transformed itself into a vast ocean of possibilities.

Vadeesh Budramane, Managing Director, FCG, tells that one of the possibilities is the pizza coupon application. A telecom engineer now, to take an example, has to understand the technicalities of, say, a customer receiving pizza coupons on his hand-held mobile device through SMS when he is in the vicinity of a pizza joint. Such killer applications are getting more creative and the world is now on your communicating device, courtesy the telecom engineer. Sailing here is all work and all play too for telecom engineers. There is wireless, wireline, optical, datacom, and intelligent networks to contend with. Add to that the next generation networks consisting of soft switches, signaling protocol, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), Global System for Mobile communications (GSM), network or element management, and broadband network.

The boom in telecom was on expected lines with over 275,000 telecom jobs moving to India, China, and other low-wage nations by the year 2008 according to a Deloitte Touche survey of 42 global telecommunications operators. The report shows that global telecom giants will move about 5 percent of the industry’s 5.5 million member workforce—or 275,000 positions—to low-cost countries.

Who is a telecom professional?
According to Budramane a telecom engineer say in switching is the one who has proficiency in switches, signaling protocols, and network management. A telecom professional is involved in implementing the design from the software he creates and testing the software for the intended functionality—that is, how it functions in an integrated environment at the client’s side. As per the functionality, an end-to-end responsibility is to be taken up with maintenance of features in accordance with the new requirements that may spring from the client or market tectonics. Many such movements have given telecom engineers an array of choices to look forward to.

The broad fork in the telecom space
Professionals conversant with Object Oriented Programming (OOP) with an MCA or computer science engineering background could look at telecom applications and telecom services. Others with electronics or telecom engineering background and are interested in structured programming can take interest in the embedded telecom utilities. Embedded here means software which resides in, say, smaller equipments like switches and routers or mobile handsets or those which reside in bigger equipments like servers or desktops. “If you are working for mobile switches or handsets then embedded would be an area with the highest potential to specialize in,” says Veer Kamesh, AVP and Head of Telecom Server SW Business, Huawei India. “If you are working for mobile services then the application side could be the option, an example being the booming sales of pre-paid cards.”

To gain a toe-hold here
Tests for telecom aspirants include architecting various solutions or creating the design at the interview stage. Cross-technical tests are conducted along with domain-expert interviews. “Basically, consistency of performance at all levels of the recruitment cycle gives the candidate a chance to be hired at Huawei,” reiterates Kamesh. “Also, if they are able to explain why they covet the position they are looking for and most importantly if their career objective and attitude is aligned to our company they are considered as potential employees.”

What does it take to survive?
Good attitude and basic programming skills are expected from the junior level telecom professionals—that is ability to handle basic and advanced features of a language. A rookie has to know features in ‘C’ language like pointers and structures. A structured programmer should know the best practices in an embedded environment. An object-oriented programmer must excel in using his skills in server and middleware applications. Aptitude to learn system level programming is a key attribute. You need to know thoroughly at least “What is a switch?”

A two-year professional should possess deep product knowledge of the project he has worked on. Learnability and adaptability to correlate his or her experience to the current project or technical situations is a must. A strong desire to succeed in a product environment is de rigueur. Certifications, which add value to your career, include those from Brainbench, Cisco, Avaya, and the Sun Certified Java Architect (SCJA) certification. The Advanced Level Telecommunication Training Center (ALTTC) at Ghaziabad and the Academy of Telecom Management (ATM) at Delhi offers specialized training in telecommunications. As the years roll by a seven year experienced telecom techie graduates to the middle level.

Middle level executives would be responsible for one module of the whole product. He should be responsible for the team, which would typically consist of 7–10 members. He should be clear on what is expected out of each team member and what is to be delivered to the next level of stakeholders. Possession of intricate knowledge of the technology he is working on is a must and he should support the team on all technical issues and if he does not address a block it must be taken up at the right time for resolution. Median level telecom techies must possess good programming skills and must ensure bece. At the senior level good design and system architectural skills are a must,” points out Budramane. Architecting on C++ and Java systems is ideal. Excellent customer knowledge is a prerequisite and this must translate this into various functional and non-functional requirements. A global telecom engineer sitting here has to know the service providers on the other side of the Atlantic in order to provide seamless service to clients.

Communication skills are critical for disseminating ideas through the team and explaining various analyses for improvement. “Articulating is vital because if at a forum within the company the various components and sub-systems of a product are elucidated effectively then it can be reused in other products the company is developing at present or in the future too. The components and subsystems hence attains more value,” says Kamesh.

Well, take a call on a possible career in telecom if it suits you. It may turn out to be your calling.

Industry aggregates of salary for a telecom professional:

Source: Veer Kamesh, AVP and Head of Telecom Server SW Business, Huawei India
Entry Level: 3.5 lakhs per annum
Middle Level (7-8 years experience): 14 lakhs per annum
Senior Level (12-15 years experience): 24 lakhs per annum
The telecom field is very promising as the right talent is richly rewarded. Kamesh points out that there is a shortage for the right people at the middle and senior levels. Hence, if professionals gear themselves up in the right manner for their career they are in for execellent career opportunities, resulting in good monetary compensation.

Junior level:

* What is the difference between JDK, JVM, and JRE?
* How is a memory leak caused in Java, though the developer does not need to bother about memory allocation?
* Programming language basic concepts
* Data structures
Middle level:
* Name a couple of critical coding defects that must be found during code reviews, provide
* Name a couple of Java issues that are typical when the system is ported from one OS to another, how do you avoid them?
* Advanced Programming language concepts
* Telecom domain basic concepts
* Technology related basic concepts like Web architecture, Client Server architecture and Distributed architecture.
* Concepts on Non-functional requirements like Performance, Reliability and Maintainability.

Senior level:
* How will you test multi-threaded programs for concurrent usage, in development environment?
* Describe one performance bottleneck issue faced, and how did you go about solving it?
* Telecom domain concepts as relevant for the product the candidate is being considered for.
* Technology related concepts like Web architecture, Client Server architecture and Distributed architecture.
* Advanced aspects of Non-functional requirements like Performance, Reliability and Maintainability.
* Architecture & Design skills including Design patterns.

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