Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Time for A Transition

Almost a year has passed since I last written a blog, why? Maybe after almost three decades in the industry I'm not excited by the technology these day. Maybe it has been the associations with my last two companies that have deflated the once full sails that I had for navigating through the industry. Or maybe it is the malaise that has wandered into the industry after the deflation of the bubble. Most of the innovation has migrated to the services delivered and customer equipment and out of the network. The pendulum has swung back to intelligent CPE/dumb network. Of course there are those that will argue with me that there is more intelligence in the network than ever with bandwidth on demand, SDN, NFV, IP-centric data transport, and the cloud. All of this technology are just techniques to optimize data transport from point A to point B. Exciting as it may be, we are just at the asymptote of the Moore's Law curve.

After reading this first paragraph you may begin to think that I am jaded. I prefer to think of it as experienced. I believe that the industry will still create breakthroughs in technology but they will be focused on the customer experience more than the network experience. There is still much work to do making access to the network ubiquitous and inexpensive. The creation of Inphotonics Research was to leverage the concept of open-access broadband infrastructure to increase customer choice and broadband penetration outside urban and suburban areas, but we were a bit ahead of our time. I know that open-access infrastructure would be the best alternative for consumers and municipalities, but I am not going to fight that fight again unless some unforeseen circumstance were to unveil itself.

When I started my telecommunication career in the mid-80 at AT&T Bell Laboratories, I was fascinated by the possibilities of fiber optic communications, and I chose to be a part of it all the way from basic research on III-V materials to make better laser diodes and photodetectors to the systems that used those devices. I was a part of many industry firsts though the innovation that myself and my colleagues created and delivered. As my career progressed, I evolved from a development/technical role to a business/management role but I still stayed on top of the technology because it was my differentiator. I continually educated myself on the latest technology and standards to remain on the leading edge of technology. My companies and customers benefited from this skill.

After the bubble broke, I made some decisions that were more family than career oriented. I was disillusioned with the industry because of the corruption and ineptness that I witnessed firsthand. Maybe I would have been less disillusioned if I had cashed in on some of the spoils, but despite my best recommendations our owners decided to take a different course. Still I ended up working with some great people over the last decade and a half while at Accedian Networks and even Sunrise Telecom. Through it all it was my customers that kept me going. It was the satisfaction that no matter what happened that I was giving them the best recommendations and value that I could provide.

All is not doom and gloom though. I have been involved in many industry firsts, and gained extensive knowledge and experience along the way. I have had the privilege of working with some great people both as colleagues and customers. A few months ago, I was contemplating what I should do for the next stage of my career. I am in Boulder, Colorado which I love and have ties to my family and community. The Denver/Boulder area is not known for being a hot-bed of telecom activity these days and investors are more interested in mobile applications and social media over investing in big infrastructure companies. A Sphero-like device has a better chance of being funded over an inexpensive device that can deliver broadband services to remote areas. It is a shame because we have a vibrant communications services industry in the region still the money is going elsewhere.

What to do? Fortunately my industry colleagues and friends are always there for me, and I reconnected with one of my best manufacturer representative to expand his business into the telecom sector. Charlie Fajardo built ComTech Technologies to serve the cable TV (a.k.a. MSO) industry. Charlie and his team have been extremely successful building a relationship with MSO customers over the years to build a great business that not only sells a wide variety of products to these companies, but is a unbiased and reliable technical source to provide recommendations to these service providers.

I have joined ComTech Sales to start the telecom practice to provide the same services to customers in the telecommunications industry. We will build on the already extensive list of manufacturers that we have partnered to service our telecommunications service provider customers. I am excited to embark on this new venture with Charlie and the team to grow ComTech Sales business to the level the team has done in the MSO space. I look forward to continuing to build relationships with my existing customers plus add many more as well as forge new and stronger relationships with our manufacturer partners. We are here to be a reliable resource to all communications companies to serve your needs from the customer all the way through the network. This will be an exciting new journey that I am thrilled to do.