Telecommunications, a Booming Industry Ripe with Economic Opportunity

By Carter, John H. | Diversity Employers, February 1999 | Go to article overview

Telecommunications, a Booming Industry Ripe with Economic Opportunity


Carter, John H., Diversity Employers


Phone services. The Internet. Cable services. Voice mail. Electronic mail. There's no end to the way that telecommunications touch our lives, and the list grows longer every day as new services are introduced in the marketplace. The Information Age has arrived, but it has yet to reach its full potential.

What does that mean for you? Telecommunications is a fast-growing, highly competitive industry with an ever-growing demand for bright, young prospective employees like you. Simply put, telecommunications is any form of electronic communication: by traditional telephone lines or cable, by wireless or radio transmission, or by satellite. It may be transmission of voice, data or video. Chances are, you use a number of telecommunications services every day, right there on campus.

Industry leaders are companies you know well: AT&T Sprint and MCI in the long-distance markets; the "Bell" companies like BellSouth, Bell Atlantic, SBC, Ameritech and U.S. West. There are manufacturers like Nortel and Motorola, and cable television companies like Time Warner and TCI. Then there are the smaller, not-quite-so-well-known companies like Symbiont and Worldwide Technology, Inc., which are enjoying their share of success in this rapidly growing industry, and happen to be owned by African Americans.

Some companies provide traditional telephone services. Some provide long-distance service. Others provide cellular or wireless services. Some manufacture telecommunications equipment, and others provide Internet services or consulting services. In any event, most telecommunications companies provide a mix of services.

Industry Outlook is Bright

If you want a job in a rapidly growing industry, telecommunications is the place to be. Many Wall Street stock analysts are beginning to change their perspective and see opportunity for both the large companies and the smaller new companies. Both new and incumbent local phone companies are benefiting from the higher demand and increasing revenue per customer. Let me give you an example from my perspective at BellSouth. In 1997, somewhere in the world, we added a new customer every 12 seconds. Nearly two-thirds of those customers are outside of our traditional wireline telephone business - and a strong indication that the international telecommunications markets are booming.

Many telecom companies have been merging and forming new alliances to better leverage their expertise and expand into new markets. Bell Atlantic, for example, has merged with NYNEX in the northeast and is currently working to form a union with GTE. AT&T plans to join forces with TCI and Teleport. MCI has united with WorldComm. Everybody wants to find a way to strengthen their market position in this hot industry.

African Americans in the Executive Suite

For African Americans, prospects still aren't as great as they should be, but they continue to improve as more of us are moving up into the executive ranks. At BellSouth for example, our financial department is led by Chief Financial Officer Ike Harris, and Odie Donald is our group president for our customer operations units. Bell Atlantic's Bruce Gordon, who is their group president for retails services, was recently named the 1998 Black Enterprise Executive of the Year; and Jacquelyn "Jacquie" Gates, their vice president of ethics, compliance, diversity & organizational development, was named as one of America's "100 Most Influential Blacks" by Ebony magazine. Another prominent figure in the industry is Andrew C. Barrett. A former member of the Federal Communications Commission, he now is the managing director of the Barrett Group. He's been known to travel frequently to Africa helping countries privatize their telephone systems.

Then there are entrepreneurs like James "Bud" Ward and David Steward. Ward's company, Symbiont, Inc., is an information technology services and management company headquartered in Washington, D. …

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