Now, that i'm not in the ISP business --
*all* large ISPs have the same "small" problem, namely the
complete lack of understanding of the current workforce market
by the management. There are only few people in the world who
really know how the global routing works, and some of them
already worth more than average Joe Banana telco tech will make
for his entire life. Needless to say that they don't work for
telcos, so those who still do have something to think about.
I think the biggest problem for most ISPs today is not so much a dearth
of capable engineers. It shouldn't really take long, or much effort to
train people who are capable of learning and are capable in general.
Some of the biggest problems many ISPs face have to do with a dearth of
money resources, since most ISPs are small upstarts, then a dearth of
capable managers and marketers. Capable managers find capable engineers
and capable marketers.
[As a point of reference, it only took me about four months to go from
knowing nothing about Cisco's to running an ISP's network (multi-homed
to different providers); I had a college student's background in IP, a
few books, Cisco manuals, and the networking community at large to draw
from. To be fair, one network engineer who has participated here has
little respect for me, though I know some others do. My point is that
people can be trained. Many important participants in this list are very
I suspect most ISPs were/are started, and, most importantly, run by folk
who don't understand the rapidly evolving market for Internet access.
If people praise UUNET's service, I would dare say that UNNET can
satisfy them because it has been a provider for quite some time now;
they should know their business pretty well. I also dare say that other
ISPs who have been around for some time are good for nothing.
In my practice, leaving a large ISP by members of engineering or
operational staff causes rather steep increases in their income.
On the other hand, engineers having compensation bigger than
their managers is something unheard of in the telco corporate
culture, and so is trusting engineers to do planning, without
the "benefit" of last-year-plus-five-percent beancounting.
A few months ago I was offered very lousy deals by two different ISPs to
help them run their networks. One of them was reselling access out of a
cheap T1 bought from a cheap ISP whose network capacity was oversold by
about 4000%; the other one had a T3 on order and three existing T1s in
place but only had sales for a handful of T1s' worth of bandwidth. Both
were run by morons who expected me to work for little trying to get an
enterprise to succeed but which had no chance to do so, and I had the
impression that I would have little influence on management. At least
the ISP at which I started my career payed me little but had good
chances of succeeding, was fun and had at least one capable manager at
most times. I now earn much more working for a larger corporation,
which, while not an ISP, promises to have a lot of fun work in which I
am or will be involved.
Those who stay are either young enough to work just for fun, or
have other reasons (immigration status, etc) to stay. Of course,
incompetents tend to stay till pensions.
Folk, the above is true of more people in this field than you can