Telecommunications is not Communications, or am I getting OTT

Some things annoy me. One thing that really annoys me is when people use the word communications, when they mean telecommunications.

In my (not) humble opinion, telecommunications is about the transport of a set of well defined “inputs”, from a user selected input point, to a user defined output point, to an agreed quality of service.

Communications is about how one gets an idea from inside one’s head into the head of some-one else. It is about the selection of symbols that, to the originator, convey the idea. Hopefully that selection of symbols conveys the same idea to the receiver.

Picking a font for this web page is a communications issue, deciding whether to write in English, Welsh or German is a communications issue. Such factors affect how well my idea is conveyed to the audience.

Communications is about meaning, content, syntax, semantics and symbols.

Telecommunciations is about moving symbols from A to B, and does not get involved in the meaning, content, syntax, semantics and symbols.

Telecommunications <> Communications.

Gods protect me (see p.s.)  from hearing more people talk about OTT (Over The Top) service providers. OTT is a common expression in the telecommunications service provider world to describe companies such as WhatsApp and Skype: companies that receive a media stream from one user and pass it on to one or more other users.

In some cases companies such as NetFlix and other media providers, who do not “interconnect” users to one another, are also called OTT.

In all cases (WhatsApp, Skype, NetFlix…) the OTT players and the users pay for their Internet access. Never-the-less, the telecommunications service providers (i.e. the people who basically set the prices that the users pay) complain about the OTT players making money off the back of the telecommunications service providers. Hmm, that always was the purpose of telecommunications. The good old VPC equation.

                       V > P > C

The value of a telecommunications service should be higher to the user than the price that he must pay for the service. The price of the service must be higher that the cost of providing that service.

OTT’s are seen by most telecommunications service providers as free-loaders riding on the back of the telecommunications service providers.

Of course, they conveniently forget that the Internet was providing E-Mail and Chat services long before the telecommunications providers introduced SMS’.  Oh my, how we do twist the truth to suit our purposes. Or am I getting a bit OTT myself.

p.s. I am a fan of that dearly missed author, Terry Pratchett. Hence the “Gods“.

Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner and Digital Dinosaurs Footprints

I attended a team meeting at work today, I work for a management and telecommunications consultancy company. Amongst many topics we discussed the role of social media in marketing. This got me thinking about this web-site.

Is running a blog with no followers the same as standing at Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner and mouthing off when no one is listening.  Or is it like keeping a diary which you do not lock away.

I know that I do not care whether this blog is read by anyone, but after 38 years in the telecommunications industry I find it intriguing to think about the psychology of communications, especially communications made possible by digital technology.

In my old, static web-site, I referred to a science fiction story that I read back in the late 70’s. It was about a group of computer science students (set in the future, but it was written in the 50’s so it was quite primitive). These students were sent to a sort of bank that held in its computer “vaults” the electronic diaries of customers. The students job was to browse through the  diaries of customers who had died, and then decide whether the entires could be deleted. Sometimes the Internet makes me think of that story. The idea that web-sites, blogs and social media will create a digital footprint, and that we will leave tracks in the Infoverse that future generations might analysis as part of a reseach project, I find it quite interesting. although I should know better, any such research will be done by computer programs. Ah well! I wonder what they will make of this blog, my own electronic Hyde Park Speakers’ Corner.

I am a digital dinosaur, welcome to my foot prints!

Lighting Guitars

Not everything on this website is going to be video, I will still want some good old static pictures.


Knowing how bad I am at playing guitar/bass/ukulele/mandolin then I will definitely not provide videos of me playing, but I would like some good static shots of the instruments. But getting good shots, especially of the shiny / glossy Yamaha is proving difficult.

Fresh Start

After 15 years of running a static website I have decided to add videos and a blog. I have ditched my WYSIWYG HTML editor (also 15 years old), installed WordPress and am desperately trying to be an old dog than learns new tricks.

Samson Meteor USB Microphone . Looks at bit like a Dalek to me (I remember William Hartnel in the original Doctor Who series!)

In the last month I have splashed out on a new webcam (Logitech C922), a green screen background, a set of four video lights, and today a Samson Meteor USB microphone. I even created two YouTube channels one for programming and one for telecommunications. To bring it all together I have installed OBS Studio on my desktop.

I decided against using the C922 microphone because I seemed to be getting too much background noise. But when the Meteor arrived I was almost in tears. The microphone was picking up all sorts of noise. But when I tested it on my laptop it was okay. So I returned to my desktop and tried plugging the Meteor in via a powered USB hub. Even worse. Then I tried via a USB 3.0 socket on a PCIe card. It worked like a dream, and then of course the C922 microphone was fine via the USB 3.0

Now I have no excuses. I will record a video!