Today, we’re constantly in touch with our peers. We can call, instant message, video chat, and email to and from pretty much anywhere in the world. This sort of begs the question: How? The answer? Telecommunications.
Telecommunication is the transmission of signs, signals, messages or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems. Basically, any communication that does not occur from being face to face with the person receiving your message is likely a telecommunication. Even two cans connected by a string is a form of Telecommunications
We’ve come from smoke signals and telegraphs to digital communication over networks, like the Internet, to send and receive messages.
Today, working in Telecommunications typically refers to people who work with phone systems, but it also encompasses anyone who works with networks. Most of the work on telecommunications systems goes on behind the scenes, and people utilizing the technology rarely even know the complex infrastructure required to keep it all working.
There are switches, which handle communication usually within a short distance (like your computer to your TV). If a switch does not have the destination directly attached to it, it sends the traffic to a nearby router.
Routers handle more complex traffic, utilizing different “routing protocols” to know where to send traffic. For example, if you wanted to go to “facebook.com” the router would look up where it thinks “facebook.com” lives, and send the traffic on it’s way. Sometimes a router does not know where to send traffic, and it instead sends it to another router where it would hopefully have the information to reach its destination.
Similar to how you send a letter. The postman who picks up your letter does not know how to get your letter where it needs, but takes it back to a factory to get processed, handed off to another processing facility, and so on, until another postman gets it who knows exactly where to deliver the letter.
A very similar process occurs when you make a phone call, just replace “facebook.com” with a phone number. All of the underlying technology may be different, but at the end of the day, they are performing a very similar operation.
So that’s telecomunications. The next time you send a tweet or post on facebook, think about the hundreds or thousands of devices in-between you and the people receiving your message. That invisible road for your message is an entire industry, and one of the most important ones to our way of living.