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Marking 42 Years in Telecom and One Amazing Career at Syniverse

Filed in Mobile Careers by on June 30, 2014 0 Comments

Forty-two years is a long time for anything, but especially for a career in the fast-moving world of telecommunication. I say “telecommunication” rather than “mobile” because the dawn of the mobile industry was still a full decade away when I reported for my first day in 1972 at the company that would one day become Syniverse. Forty-two years later, I’m in awe at how advanced mobile technology has become and how many fantastic colleagues at Syniverse I’ve had the pleasure of working with to help take mobile to where it is today.

On July 4, I sadly close the long chapter of my Syniverse career, and what an amazing 42-year ride it’s been. You might expect that with my unusually long time in the mobile industry, I get quite a few questions asking how much everything has changed, and as one of my final acts at Syniverse, I would like to address a few of them here.

I hope you find these reflections interesting, and I invite you to chime in with any questions. Even though I’ll technically be retired soon, I’ll always be happy to break out of retirement mode and put on my “work hat” to discuss an industry I’ve spent 42 wonderful years in.

 

When did you start at Syniverse?
I began my career in 1972 with GTE in Tampa, Florida, which was the parent company of what is now Syniverse.

What was your most recent role, and what roles have you held over your 42 years at Syniverse?
As Senior Technology Director for Enterprise and Intelligence Solutions, I managed Syniverse’s Innovation group that works closely with the Strategy and Business Development groups to define and test new product and services concepts. In my early years at GTE in the ‘70s, I started out in the area of local and long distance network switching and data communications. In 1987, I joined the newly formed GTE Information Services unit, which had responsibility for expanding GTE’s traditional wireline services into specific industries, like health care, education and public works. GTE TSI, the predecessor to Syniverse, was one of the companies formed as part of this initiative. Since 1990, my focus has been in the areas of R&D, new product development and technology strategy.

Lobby

At Syniverse headquarters in Tampa, Florida, in one of my final weeks.

What originally attracted you to a career in telecommunication?
Not sure exactly what ultimately attracted me, but when I was growing up, I remember driving by buildings with GTE and AT&T logos on them. These were usually plain brick buildings with no windows, but a lot of them had large microwave towers on top of them. I was always curious as to what kind of magic equipment must be inside those buildings that allowed people to make phone calls anywhere in the world. Having spent my entire career in this industry, I’m still amazed at how all of this stuff really works!

What have been the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry over your career?
It amazes me to look around at the tools we currently use on a daily basis that didn’t exist in my early career. There were no PCs, email and voice mail systems, or even fax machines.

What was the first mobile phone you used, and what mobile phone do you have now?
Back in 1974 I had a company vehicle that was equipped with a Motorola IMTS (Improved Mobile Telephone Service) phone. This was the precursor to what was later to become the cellular systems we know today. It consisted of a huge handset console mounted under the dashboard and a large box containing the radio mounted in the trunk. You had the ability to make and receive calls, but the entire system could only support around 10 simultaneous calls. I now use an iPhone 5. It’s quite a difference to say the least.

Motorola_IMTS

The Motorola IMTS. (Courtesy of WonderHowTo.)

What mobile technology development has impressed you the most over your 42 years?
I think mobile data service is by far the most important I’ve seen to date. We’ve seen continuous advancements in both licensed and unlicensed mobile broadband technologies. Not only has there been increasing speeds and battery life, but there have also been huge performance enhancements, including lower packet loss, lower latency and increased capacity. This has fueled the development of smartphones and other devices as well as applications that can take advantage of these advancements.

What’s one thing about the development of today’s mobile technology that many people might not know?
I would have to say all of the technology and systems behind the scenes it takes to enable roaming. We at Syniverse have always strived to make the mobile user’s roaming experience completely seamless, regardless of the underlying radio technology or signaling protocol. Looking back, I think we’ve been able to accomplish that.

If, in 1972, when you first started, you had tried to predict what the future of telecommunication would look like in 2014, is there any way you could have come close to predicting how today’s mobile world works?
Actually, you would have to go back further and review all of the advancements that first came about on the wireline side of telecom. The advent of personal computers and the Internet sparked our appetite, and mobile technologies were developed to allow us to take that experience with us wherever we go. Taking all this in, I have a hard time predicting or even imagining what the next 10 years in mobile will bring!

What will you miss the most about working at Syniverse?
Well, I most certainly will miss seeing and interacting with all of my co-workers and customers that we have worked so hard to support over the years.

I won’t necessarily miss being in the office so early in the morning. I’ve always been a morning person, and I usually was in the office by 5:30 am. The early morning hours helped me to avoid traffic, and I found them to be very productive, especially for getting a jump-start on overnight emails from Asia and Europe.

Cake

Cutting the cake at a farewell party given for me by my colleagues.

Do you have any special plans for retirement? And will mobile continue to play a big part in your life in retirement?
I really haven’t planned anything special except to maybe finish some projects around the house that I’ve started over the years. I’ve been fortunate to have had the chance to travel extensively during my career at Syniverse, so I can’t say travel is at the top of my list of things to do.

I’ll definitely continue to rely heavily on mobile technology in retirement to keep in touch with my friends and family. Who knows, I might finally even give up my landline telephone!

 

 

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Manuel Maseda retired in July 2014 as Senior Technology Director, Enterprise Solutions, after a 42-year career at Syniverse. In his last position, he managed Syniverse’s Innovation group that works closely with the Strategy and Business Development groups to define and test new product and services concepts. He started his career at GTE in the 1970s and worked in the area of local and long distance network switching and data communications. In 1987, he joined the newly formed GTE Information Services unit, which had responsibility for expanding GTE’s traditional wireline services into specific industries, like health care, education and public works. GTE TSI, the predecessor to Syniverse, was one of the companies formed as part of this initiative, and since 1990, his focus was in the areas of R&D, new product development and technology strategy.

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