IT in Telecommunications

Play a role in modernising and upgrading our country’s communications infrastructure.
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Ivy
Ivy Simon
Editorial Writer
Play a role in modernising and upgrading our country’s communications infrastructure.

Broadly speaking, the goal of the telecommunications industry is to make communication between end-users possible, wherever they may be across the world. 

This industry is divided into two sides. There’s the front-facing side, which includes everything that users see, from fixed-line telephones and broadband to mobile devices and apps. And then there is the backend infrastructure that allows the front-facing side of the industry to function, on top of the infrastructure behind the broader internet cloud.

Companies in this industry are typically split into hardware manufacturers (vendors) or service providers (carriers). Hardware providers include companies like Apple, Samsung, Huawei, and Google, who sell and maintain the hardware and software the sector requires. Service providers include carriers like Celcom Axiata, Maxis, or TIME, who provide actual connectivity to consumers and businesses.

A third, less obvious segment of this industry are companies that offer IT consultancy for cloud computing infrastructure, such as Accenture and IBM. Though this segment focuses almost exclusively on working with other businesses or government bodies.

Career overview

What responsibilities are assigned to graduate hires early on is usually determined by whether they work with vendors or carriers. 

In the case of the former, IT graduates can expect to be assigned to technical positions, initially helping with hardware or software development before moving on to other areas to gain experience. You could be working on consumer-focused devices or apps, or industry-grade technology meant to be sold to other businesses or even carriers themselves.

On the other hand, although carriers usually offer a wider range of job options to IT graduates, most of them still call for specialised knowledge. As a result most carriers will usually run graduate or management associate programmes that include job rotations and mentorships, in order to onboard new hires into their operations.

Project-based work is the norm in this industry, and duties often include product testing, infrastructure setup or maintenance, technical sales and marketing, customer and client support, and research and development (R&D) of hardware and software.

The pace of your work will depend on your employer. For instance, when large carriers roll out new technology, it tends to be gradual and staggered because they need to maintain reliability for their existing customers while also complying with regulations. On the other hand, smaller vendors piggybacking off larger carriers, software-based vendors, or start-ups can be very fast-moving as they are trying to launch a product as quickly as possible.

Trends and developments

The Malaysian telecom market has shown rapid growth in recent years and is anticipated to continue expanding until 2025. The sector is expanding primarily as a result of the country's growing urban population and the widespread use of mobile phones that enable 4G and 5G services. With increased Internet of Things (IoT) usage locally – all of which connects with wired and wireless internet, the local telecom sector is expected to develop their infrastructure further in order to handle the increased load.

Within the global telecom industry more generally, there is currently a shift away from expensive custom-made vendor hardware that is developed to be very good at a specific function, towards “commodity hardware”. These are generic, easily obtainable servers that are less expensive and can be modified into any item of network infrastructure as needed.

Another trend in cloud computing is the cointainerisation of virtual machines. This is the process of being setting up new machines in a data centre by as easily as clicking a button, turning them into whatever infrastructure you need at the moment, and then either deactivating or overwriting them with another function once you don't need them anymore. For carriers, this means they can increase and decrease the size of their infrastructure according to user demand. 

Pros and cons

Many different responsibilities

Due to the wide variety of job duties offered and the constant technological advancement in the field of telecommunications, work can be quite intriguing.

Pressure

When networks go down, IT staff can expect to face intense pressure to fix the infrastructure or system, especially if it involves critical functions.

Graduates must also have the constant self-motivation to keep up with the rapid and ongoing developments in telecommunication technology or risk falling behind.

Required skills

  • Abreast with the latest IT and technology trends
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Eye for detail
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Research skills
  • Analytical skills