David Hope – Job Talk – 4 October 2022

In delivering his much-anticipated job talk to the club last week, recently-recruited member David Hope held the interest of his audience with his account of the speed of change which has taken place in telecommunications in the last thirty or so years. These changes have occurred principally on two fronts: rapid technical advancement and numerous company takeovers.

David began his talk with an overview of the types of switchgear which replaced the telephone operator in the earlier telephone exchanges. He rattled through the progression of switch types from the original “Strowger switch” to the modern-day digital switching Systems X & Y, developed originally by the GPO. These later devices (known in the trade as “wardrobes”) could accommodate a vastly greater number of subscribers with the result that existing telephone exchange buildings, requiring much less of the available floorspace, are now largely empty. Since  telegraph poles are now giving way to cabinets served by underground cables David’s father joked that his son was “either up poles or down holes”.

David started with British Telecom in 1989 and has spent his entire career (so far) in telecoms. After two years as a field technician with Scottish Telecom (installation and repairs) he became a “customer-support engineer” until 2006 when ST changed to “Thus” and where his designation was “transmission engineer”. In 2008, Thus were taken over by Cable & Wireless and David embarked on a process of “site rationalisation” to improve efficiency.  When Vodaphone bought over C&W in 2012 his role became that of “data-engineer” and after yet another takeover, this time by “Gamma”, he was appointed “data-planning engineer”. In this role he is responsible for coordinating different telecom companies and dealing with OFCOM.

Euan Lawrence in his vote of thanks remarked that although he had known David for many years he had known little or nothing of his fascinating career and was grateful for the entertaining insight.