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Book details of 'The Essential Guide to Telecommunications'

Cover of The Essential Guide to Telecommunications
TitleThe Essential Guide to Telecommunications
Author(s)Annabel Z. Dodd
PublisherPrentice Hall Trade
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The Virtual Bookcase Reviews of 'The Essential Guide to Telecommunications':

Reviewer wrote:
The telecommunications industry encompasses hundreds of different technologies, which in turn have spawned many trade names, jargon terms, and legal definitions. Those looking for a comprehensive introduction to the technologies, laws, and marketing programs that govern telecommunications need to read The Essential Guide to Telecommunications. Author Annabel Z. Dodd begins by pointing out that telecommunications technologies have everything to do with signals moving over media. She then goes on to catalog some of the various kinds of signals and media, covering traditional switched telephone service, dedicated lines, public branch exchanges (PBXs), and automatic call distributors (ACDs) along the way. After that foray into technology, she gets into the U.S. telecommunications business environment, focusing heavily on the federal breakup of AT&T in 1984 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. She then explains additional technologies; data communications and the Internet-ISDN, Frame Relay, and analog modems all get attention. The author also pays plenty of attention to wireless solutions, including satellite communications. Unlike Newton's Telecom Dictionary (which remains an excellent resource), this book can be successfully read from start to finish by a reader with practically no telecommunications knowledge at the outset. Read and understand--that's what good technical books, like this one, enable you to do.

Reviewer Rob Slade wrote:
The target audience for this book is the non-technical worker in the telecommunications industry. That means mostly managers and marketeers. Since it is entitled "Fundamentals," part one seems to indicate that this book is about telephone service, rather than telecommunications in general. Chapter one provides basic concepts and background necessary for further exploration. The material is clear and readable, but lacks some organization. In addition there are minor errors; POTS is Plain Old Telephone Service" and baud defines a change in signal state rather than describing a full cycle.; although Dodd does avoid the usual error regarding the number of characters in the ASCII definition. For the intended audience this information is not vital, but it does betray a weakness in the text. The first part of chapter two covers telephone sets, switches, and peripherals, while the latter part looks at cabling. Again, it would benefit from reorganization and small errors, such as the explanation of single mode fiber optic cable, are present. Part two is an industry overview, at least for the United States. While it mentions most of the major vendors, chapter three seems to be primarily centred around the 1984 breakup of AT&T. Chapter four lists a number of provisions in the Telecommunications Act of 1996. A rather pedestrian overview of readily available, and well known, services is mixed with an insufficiently explained mention of data bandwidth and out-of-band signalling in chapter five. Part three looks at advanced technologies. As might be surmised from the foregoing, this is a particularly weak area in the book. Chapter six breezes through some standard bandwidth sizes, and then flies through new technologies such as ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network), ATM (Asynchronous Transfer Mode), and SONET (Synchronous Optical NETwork). The material fails to explain such important points as ATM's ability to carry both voice (with a guaranteed quality of service) and data (efficiently "filling in the blanks"), or SONET's management infrastructure and scalability. Modems of various types are listed in chapter seven. The Internet is presented in somewhat haphazard fashion in chapter eight. Again there is a lack of analysis leading to misinformation. On page 194, for example, it is stated that cable modems can result in privacy loss when, in fact, the problem results from a combination of promiscuous network media, an operating system with no security provisions, and a broadcast resource announcement protocol meant only for extremely limited networks. Wireless service, in chapter nine, deals almost exclusively with cellular telephones. The aim and audience of the book is non-technical. However, to be useful the work should analyze and explain the implications of the technology, if not the inner workings. This volume does not match such existing texts as Naugle's "The Illustrated Network Book" (see reviews), Bates and Gregory's "Voice and Data Communications Handbook" (see reviews), or even "Newton's Telecom Dictionary" (see reviews). While the strictly business content is not bad, it is equalled by any number of references elsewhere, and will be of no interest outside the US. copyright Robert M. Slade, 1998

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