Minichiello--an industry father figure

Anthony T. Minichiello, known to many of us as "Tony," is an industry icon. He humbly calls himself a foot soldier who has worked his way up through the ranks of the telecommunications infantry, starting as a lineman installing and splicing cable to eventually become one of the industry`s most respected and beloved figures. Minichiello was there when telecommunications was just a fancy 50-cent word to most of us and the technology consisted of telephones and telegraphs.

Ron Karjian

Anthony T. Minichiello, known to many of us as "Tony," is an industry icon. He humbly calls himself a foot soldier who has worked his way up through the ranks of the telecommunications infantry, starting as a lineman installing and splicing cable to eventually become one of the industry`s most respected and beloved figures. Minichiello was there when telecommunications was just a fancy 50-cent word to most of us and the technology consisted of telephones and telegraphs.

He has been one of the industry`s strongest and most vocal proponents, as simple voice and data communications have evolved into the ever-expanding applications that make up telecommunications today. He`s also one of the pillars upon which bicsi was built, having been named bicsi`s Honorary Lifetime Member in 1994 as well as an Outstanding Member in 1991. More recently, he received the University of South Florida`s Harry J. Pfister Award for Excellence in Service to the Communication Industry during a very emotional and touching ceremony at last January`s bicsi conference.

Minichiello, a telecommunications-industry consultant to cabling equipment manufacturers, is owner of Maximis Communications Consultants Inc. (Concord, NH), where he has planned and designed premises-cabling installations and outside plants. He majored in math, physics, and engineering at the University of New Hampshire, speaks three foreign languages, is published in several telecommunications magazines and manuals, and is a sought-after speaker at conferences throughout the United States. Yet, he always refers to his roots as a cabling installer and splicer. Notes Minichiello, "I`ve always respected the work."

The industry has experienced sweeping changes recently, especially in the evolution of structured-cabling technology, observes Minichiello. As an example, he points to how 100-Mbit/sec data transmission over Category 3 cable using complex coding and expensive modified electronic equipment has upgraded to 155-Mbit/sec transmission over Category 5 cable using simple coding equipment.

Innovation and standards

Minichiello looks with anticipation to the advent of copper- cabling systems that deliver gigabit data transmission, which will eventually relieve backbone traffic congestion in buildings.

"Our industry is evolving at a faster pace than ever before," he explains, "requiring vendors to invest heavily in the race to create new cabling products that frequently are issued as nonstandard products and rushed to the market arena. For example, Category 6 and 7 cables, connectivity products, and cabling that promise gigabit copper data rates are put in front of the end-user without standards being issued for these products."

His criticism stretches beyond the vendors to the standards committees. "The subject of standards or the lack of standards development can be very frustrating for end-users," he says. "The standards bodies should operate in a more open manner to include more end-users." Minichiello acknowledges, though, that standards would never be developed "without the vested interests of the vendors and market drivers who primarily make up the standards committees. And without standards, we wouldn`t have a networking industry. Still, market drivers must be balanced with customer needs."

As for the future, Minichiello says he`ll put a "vigorous polish to my crystal ball." On a basic level, he tells product manufacturers to "keep it simple, so I will not be required to hire a college graduate to make a splice." He also believes that networks of the future will be "a combination of packet switches, circuit switches, wireless, and wireline." And rest assured, he says, there will be a proliferation of those hard-to-remember acronyms.

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