Technology does not get a day off. In fact, people rely on it more on their days off. Can you deny that you won’t be on the internet, posting pictures from your smartphone, or anything like that over your holiday break? Can you possibly live without Facebook to share those special moments with family that couldn’t be there when your kids open that gift? Maybe when they put on that outfit someone in another state bought so they get to see the excitement, or gloom, in the kid’s eyes when they try it on for the first time.
Most people that use their technology have no idea how hard it is to make changes are upgrades when the fewest number of people are using it. This could be the holidays or overnight. Most engineers, installers, and even climbers have worked these shifts.
I worked many holidays back in the day! It is part of the job description when you do any public safety or carrier work. It’s business as usual. Upgrades, repairs, emergencies, and anything else that may have needed to be done. I have also got called out for useless things that someone thought was important, although we know it wasn’t, you know what I mean. Stupid stuff that could have waited. It’s all part of the job, which is really a lifestyle when you think about it.
Memories! I was called out on New Year’s Eve back when I was in paging because we all thought that the year 200 GPS roll over was going to crash systems, remember Y2K? I do, I worked that New
Year’s Eve as did all our teams to make sure the paging terminals, controllers and microwave uplinks would not crash. Fun times? No, but the team was awesome! They did a great job and didn’t complain, too much.
I was called out on Christmas when a system crashed, and a hospital needed to stay in touch. It was a quick fix that only took 6 hours or so, but it was back on the air when I was finished.
I once left a Thanksgiving because a modem was locked up. I drove 60 miles to reboot a modem so people could connect. All this at midnight so it would work the first thing in the morning.
I once had to repair a terrestrial link that died the day my oldest son was born. It failed because someone in the office changed something they shouldn’t have, and it crashed. Things happen, people do stupid things, and this is what happens. I don’t judge because I do stupid things. Sometimes the timing could be better, that’s all. Because the company didn’t want to pay for a contractor to come, they called me. They didn’t seem to know I was up all night in the hospital watching my oldest son come into this world. My son is doing great by the way.
Enough about me, let’s hear a great story about a big venue! The Las Vegas Convention Center is impressive, full of Wi-Fi and carriers. Cox manages most of the wireless there and they do a great job. The team there has done an outstanding job building up the Wi-Fi and managing the wireless carriers throughout the center. I am impressed with all that they have done.
However, the Cox team has a tough job. They look at holidays, even Christmas, as a prime time to upgrade their system. I was out at IWCE a few years back and I got to talk to the team that manages the wireless systems. They were a great bunch of guys. There is one guy managing almost all the wireless. His main responsibility was the Wi-Fi, but he also would oversee the DAS and carrier work inside the convention center.
You see, for the convention center to deal with all the carriers and the Wi-Fi vendors is a headache for them. After all, their business is booking the convention center and maintaining it. Wireless is one part of it. So, they have a team to manage the wireless. Under the wireless umbrella is Wi-Fi and Cellular. The cellular, in this case, is all the carriers who have coverage in the building. It really is impressive the way they have the systems installed to cover the entire venue.
It’s more than Wi-Fi, it is also the tracking of users, the counting of people in the venue and walking by. The managing of all the heavy data usage. The Cox team does an amazing job managing everything, physical and data. It’s no easy task.
If you think that they get a day off, guess again, they usually work holidays to make sure that the upgrades and changes are made. No one said wireless gets a day off. Holidays are when the teams do upgrades, additions, and changes. That is how these venues continue to grow and improve.
He told me the story of how he had to work Christmas, like most holidays, because the convention center is empty, and they can make changes without hurting service or interrupting people on the floor.
This shows you that they really care about the uptime and quality of the service not to mention the interruption of anything going on. They know that they have a window to work when no one can be interrupted. They do this when they can, which is generally a holiday when everyone else is off and enjoying their family time.
In tech and wireless, believe it or not, the customer really does come first. User experience matters.
These guys work hard when you relax just so you have a great user experience when you’re at the convention center for anything.
It’s not just him, the installers, engineers, commissioning teams,
everyone, all there so that the system gets installed properly. They look at holidays as the day to get things done without customer complaining or getting in the way.
So, when using your smartphone or getting on Facebook, think how many people are working to make sure you can post on Facebook or share this blog and listen to my podcast. Technology has come a long way, but it still takes people to install and commission. Plug and Play is close, but for the large deployments, it’s not quite there. Even so, you still need to install the gear, even small cells, they don’t show up by themselves and the drones can’t do it. It’s not an app, but physical hardware that will be attached to a physical structure.
I have to tell you, I don’t miss being called out or working for someone else on holidays. I get to work on my writing or things like that and spend time with family. I missed so much when my kids were young. That’s right, while the work was rewarding, it does bring regrets. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that until you hit my age. When you think these people work hard, they do, they also give up a lot, miss a lot, sacrifice a lot. That’s why I write, so I have more choices in how I spend my time. It took me over 50 years to figure that out.
Thank you to all the installers, engineers, IT technicians, wireless workers and construction workers that gave up their holidays to make sure we have a better system. Thank you for making it so reliable, and trying not to inconvenience the people who can’t live without Facebook or LinkedIn. I was one of you and now I enjoy all that work that you still do today. I hope you get paid well because you deserve it.
Happy holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah!
May you find peace!
What are your tech stories? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know.
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