Offshoring Network Operations

September 15th, 2008 by · 4 Comments

Telephony Online has an article today discussing the trend of carriers offshoring parts of their network operations.  This certainly is going on, one only has to listen to what networks like Colt and Level 3 have to say in their earnings calls.  And it’s unstoppable, like heat flowing from hot to cold and water running downhill – if it can be done somewhere else cheaper then sooner or later it will. However, the article speaks of the trend largely in general terms as if there are no people involved at all, which bugs me.  Like this quote:

Planning the transition should include for scenarios such as inadvertent communications and information leaks that may trigger onshore work disruption. In such situation, offshore operations may need to be commissioned earlier than anticipated.

Inadvertent communications? Onshore work disruption?  Why all the euphemisms?  Is it so hard to say ‘the people who are about to get fired might hear about it get discouraged or angry, and they might do something drastic like find other jobs before we are ready to fire them?’  There are real people on both sides of this sort of thing, the least we could do is remember that when making our plans to save money and treat them like, well, people.  Believe me, I understand the dilemma the people making these decisions have, nobody actually likes to have to do this.  But these sort of euphemisms are one of the dehumanizing acts that cause rifts between telecom management and the folks who actually run the networks.

But I digress.  What I’m wondering is how much of this my readers are actually seeing?  What sorts of IP/networking jobs are going overseas?  I know much of it is IT/backoffice stuff, but I’ve heard of other things.  IP network design?  Network Testing?  How much can really be done from 10,000 miles away?

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4 Comments So Far

  • Dan Caruso says:

    I have been meaning to write a few posts on the topic of outsourcing overseas. Clue to where I will come from: I think hype is factoring into some of the decision-making…with the result that jobs going overseas that could and should stay in the U.S.

  • Ralph Doncaster says:

    During the high tech boom days I hired a sysadmin to work remotely from Ukraine. I paid almost double the local Ukraine rate and still was saving 75% compared to North American salaries.
    Of course everything can’t be outsourced but half the staff is possible.

  • Rob Powell says:

    Dan, please do write those posts, I look forward to reading them! I tend to agree with your starting point, but the details are where I’m looking to go.

  • Frank A. Coluccio says:

    Dan, the analysis of telecoms offshoring their businesses overseas is not as straightforward as one might initially consider. Incidentally, I’m surprised Telephony didn’t mention BT’s move in this respect (although after a few items I’ve read recently, I’m not sure where the relationship described immediately below stands today) See:

    BT sets up global operations center in India
    By John Ribeiro , IDG News Service , 03/25/2008

    Less obvious movement is also taking place all the time, as US domestic operators’ outsourcers (such as HP, EDS, IBM and others) routinely ship segments of their OSS/BSS, capacity planning, network configuration, etc. work to Mubai and elsewhere too.

    Another layer removed, in the form of large multi-national enterprises who source their networks to Tier One Carriers, also wind up being managed oversees by their carriers of choice, albeit not in such a way that would suggest that the carriers themselves are resorting to the practice in the main.

    It begins to make eminent sense in an ever-expanding globalized economy to be able to provide centers of operation and support closer to where other industries are sending their business, not to mention the greater ease with which they are able to reach additional markets in those far-off lands, as noted in the BT article I cited above:

    “BT is also targeting India’s domestic market with its services.”

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