Books & Talks

The Essential Guide to Telecommunications

My book is the world’s #1 non-technical guide to telecommunications for IT staff, investors, and nontechnical professionals. It includes cloud services, social media, and advanced mobile networks. I cover industry-leading mobile providers worldwide, and explain trends and key strategies. Over 170,000 copies of my previous editions are in print, and it has been translated into nine languages worldwide. 

I have completely updated this edition to include:

  • Business and technical repercussions of cloud computing and virtualization
  • Use of 4G to transmit increased video and Internet traffic
  • Impacts of “over the top” TV providers like Hulu, YouTube and Netflix
  • Sweeping changes in data centers
  • Network security and cyber terrorism
  • Repercussions of spectrum allocation and government regulations on mobile and landline carriers, equipment suppliers, enterprises and consumers.

Praise for The Essential Guide to Telecommunications

“Annabel Dodd is a maestro when it comes to demystifying even the most complex telecommunications policies. She takes on the range of issues in the telecom world that shape how we learn, share information, conduct business, and enjoy entertainment. It’s an illuminating, accessible account that provides a much-needed primer for anyone interested in communications policy.”

—Senator Edward J. Markey, US Senator for Massachusetts


“Annabel Dodd’s book is a clear guide and big picture view of technologies and industries. It is an up-to-date guide for anyone who wants to be familiar with important innovations and key technologies. This is truly an industry bible for mobile, Internet, and networking services.”

—Hiawatha Bray, technology reporter, Boston Globe

The Essential Guide to Telecommunications, Fourth Edition was published in June 2005. The first three editions were published in 1997, 1999 and 2002.


Articles and Talks
In July 2013, I presented a two day IEEE sponsored seminar on LTE in San Jose, Costa Rica that included LTE Advanced, high definition voice, small cell technology, and VoLTE.

In 2013 I presented a webinar for USTelecom on The Essentials of LTE that attracted over 900 viewers. In 2013 I  presented another webinar for USTelecom on VoLTE Technology and Challenges that included information on High Definition Voice, Circuit Switched Fall Back, the Evolved Packet Core and the IP Multimedia Subsystem (IMS).

In March 2014, I wrote an article: Broadband a Key to Innovation that was published in the Spanish newspaper El Mundo. A copy of the article is in my blog.

The article below  is relevant today.

Sunday Boston Globe Opinion page article

Author(s):    Annabel Dodd Date: September 15, 2002 Page: C4 Section: Business

Wireless services played a poignant role in the events of Sept. 11, 2001, leading up to the jet crashes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pa. They gave the world a bird’s-eye view of events on these airplanes, and they enabled people in the twin towers and aboard the doomed planes to say good-bye to loved ones.

Unfortunately, in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, mobile networks became so congested that people were frustrated they could not use their cellphones to reach emergency services or connect with loved ones. Emergency workers, including fire and police officers, were hampered by the same network congestion. In their January 2002 report, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Treasury’s Public Safety Wireless Network program quoted Rick Keevil, first sergeant, Virginia state police: “Cellular communications failed for the Virginia state police.”

Mobile phones are an essential feature of complex rescue efforts in national disasters. Moreover, service in wireless networks can be restored faster than in traditional networks. When cellular towers are destroyed, portable ones can be deployed quickly. Within two hours of the Pentagon attack, cells on wheels – or COWs – were in place. However, congestion on the commercial network from the enormous spike in traffic reduced its ability to handle calls. In addition, many of the links between the landline network and the commercial wireless networks were severed. These connections are required for cellular long-distance traffic and calls between mobile and landline telephones.

Since Sept. 11, government agencies, carriers, and equipment vendors have stepped up efforts to determine what needs to be improved in our wireless services to handle national emergencies. The FCC has taken steps to improve the efficiency of the deployment of cellular spectrum so that more traffic can be carried on given amounts of airwaves. In addition, T-Mobile (formerly Voice Stream) has agreed to provide wireless priority access to key government decision-makers and emergency response teams. In the event of a disaster, calls from officials with one of 2,000 specially equipped phones will be given higher priority to complete calls on the T-Mobile network. But this lessens the capacity available to the general public, some of whom may need to reach 911 centers.

The FCC regulates landline telecommunications as an essential service. Carriers are required to report all major outages to the FCC’s Network Reliability and Interoperability Council, but satellite and cellular companies are specifically exempt from those rules. Under an FCC program started in 2000, cellular companies have been reporting failures on a voluntary basis. According to the council’s latest figures, carriers representing only 43 percent of cellular customers participated.

Wireless carriers that receive licenses for telecommunications services and valuable rights to our airwaves need to be held accountable for:

* Reliability in the absence of acts of aggression under normal operating conditions.

* Sustainability in the event of an attack or emergency utilizing hardware and software redundancy.

* Capacity to handle increased call volumes in emergencies.

* Security to prevent unauthorized people or organizations from gaining access to networks.

Cellular service is used by 45 percent of the US population, and the subscriber base is expanding. Every day more people drop their traditional phone service in favor of cellular service. This trend increases the crucial strategic role of wireless telecommunications for safety, public health, and coordination. Customers with wireless phones rely on them for emergency calls to police, hospitals, and fire departments.
Prior to the 1990s when there was little or no competition to the local phone companies, the Bells were guaranteed a fixed rate of return. They were able to invest sufficient capital to ensure that networks were reliable and secure and had extra capacity during crises. Our landline network’s worldwide superiority led to the United States’ export of billions of dollars in equipment and software, which strengthened our economy and spurred development of compatible global networks.

But current market conditions don’t reward carriers for investments in network infrastructure. With today’s large number of cellular providers, prices have dropped and margins are slim. It is less feasible for carriers to underwrite back-up, redundant systems, spare capacity, and reliability required in the event of failure, as well as service in outlying areas.

Representatives from all of the major wireless carriers are working with government agencies to determine best practices for telecommunications services. However, poor market conditions for telecommunications is an enormous factor hampering efforts to upgrade cellular networks to implement recommended best practices. Private capital cannot be relied upon given current market conditions. Failed investments, shady practices by certain telecommunications firms, and many bankruptcies have dried up Wall Street financing. The result is that the federal government needs to offer financial incentives or subsidies for capital improvements to cellular networks.

It is clear that a strong wireless infrastructure is an important economic, strategic, and public safety asset. Market-driven investments and voluntary reports of network outages are not sufficient for ongoing accountability for sustainable, secure, high-capacity networks. We are involved in a war on terrorism in which normal competitive forces are not adequate to ensure sustainable networks.

Additional Articles and talks
I have written articles for the Boston Globe, MASS High Tech, Network World, professional journals and Dodd on the Line, an occasional newsletter for clients.  In addition, I have spoken at and moderated numerous conferences including those sponsored by the National Exchange Carriers Association (NECA), California Telephone Association, the Massachusetts Network Communications Council (now the Technology Leadership Conference), IEEE Boston Section, Information Gatekeepers Inc., Babson College’s Center for Information Management Studies (CIMS), The National Press Foundation, The New Hampshire Public Utility Commission, and SBANE.