Wireless Telecommunications
Lesson 1: Introduction

Welcome to Teracom's Online Course 2206: Wireless Telecommunications

Wireless Telecommunications is a comprehensive up-to-date course on cellular plus Wi-Fi and satellites for non‑engineering professionals. Taking this course, you will develop a solid understanding of the fundamental principles of radio, mobility and cellular, network components and operation, digital radio, mobile phone calls and mobile Internet access, spectrum-sharing technologies like OFDM, and LTE and 5G. In addition, you will get up to speed on the components, operation and latest standards for Wi-Fi, and the essentials of satellite communications.

This free online wireless training course lesson is the introduction to the course.

In this introductory lesson, we'll first go through a technical introduction to radio communications – fundamental concepts, characteristics and applications.

Next, we'll go over the learning objectives of this course: what you will be able to do after taking this course, and the knowledge skills you will gain.

Then we will review the lessons and topics we are going to cover one-by-one, introducing ideas and showing how each lesson builds on the previous.

Wireless Telecommunications is included in the CTNS Certification Package, and in the CTA Certification Package.

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Certification Packages That Include This Course

CTNS Certification Package

Six online courses plus TCO Certification covering the core knowledge needed for telecommunications today:
  • The PSTN
  • Wireless Telecommunications
  • The OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
  • Ethernet, LANs and VLANs
  • IP Networks, Routers and Addresses
  • MPLS and Carrier Networks

TCO Certification, Certificate and Letter of Reference.

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CTA Certification Package

Sixteen online courses covering telecom, datacom and networking for non‑engineers from A‑Z, plus the prestigious TCO Certified Telecommunications Analyst certification.

Includes the six CTNS courses plus

  • The Telecommunications Industry
  • Digital
  • Transmission Systems and Fiber Optics
  • IP Security
  • The Internet, and many more

TCO Certification, Certificate and Letter of Reference.

Based on Teracom's famous training

30-day, 100% money-back guarantee

Invest in yourself!

register now for CTA
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Study Guide Notes For This Lesson

These words are displayed onscreen and spoken during the lesson, and published in the Certification Study Guide, in print or eBook. Many people tell us a printed book enhances their learning!

When we say “wireless”, we generally mean the use of radio, which is electromagnetic waves at frequencies measured in the GigaHertz (GHz), that is, vibrating 109 or a billion times per second. 

We could, in theory, be discussing electromagnetic energy vibrating on the order of 1014, hundreds of trillion times per second (this is called light); but one of the problems we have to deal with in wireless communications is obstacles.

It turns out that the higher the frequency, the longer distance it takes for energy to refract or bend around an object.

Light does refract around objects – this is how we can tell there are planets around other suns – but the length of the shadowed area behind the object is too long for use on a terrestrial scale.
If we reduce the frequency of the energy, the length of the shadow behind an obstacle shortens.

In addition, lower-frequency energy can penetrate through objects like walls and clouds more easily (there’s a reason why fog horns are very low frequency).

For these reasons, we tend to use energy at GigaHertz frequencies, two or three hundred thousand times lower than light, and call it radio.

So we will be discussing communications centered at GigaHertz frequencies, in frequency bands with widths measured in the MegaHertz (MHz).

Radio is used in many different kinds of systems with different applications, including everything from demagogues broadcasting angry rants on talk radio shows using analog AM, to mobile cellular systems for telephone calls, web surfing and possibly watching video, trunked radio for police communications, fixed wireless to remote residences, short-range wireless LANs, geosynchronous communication satellites, Low Earth Orbit satellites and more.

Video broadcast, two-way voice communications and point-to-point digital microwave communications were the biggest applications for radio in the past.  Mobile voice and data communications is a significant business in the present.  In the future, wireless will be ubiquitous.     

To represent information, we could take a single pure frequency (called a carrier frequency) and vary the amplitude (volume) of the carrier frequency in a continuous fashion as an analog of the sound coming out of the speaker’s mouth, or vary the frequency of the carrier as an analog of the sound.  These are called Amplitude Modulation (AM) and Frequency Modulation (FM) respectively.

When we wish to represent 1s and 0s, we have a more complex task.  Since radio bands do not include zero Hertz, sometimes called DC, pulses can not be used to represent 1s and 0s as on copper wires.  Instead, it is necessary to use techniques similar to those used in telephone line modems to represent the 1s and 0s, such as shifting back and forth between specific amplitudes, frequencies or phases, or combinations thereof.

refraction Lower-Frequency Energy Has Shorter Shadows

Overall Knowledge Goals Of This Course

The objective of this course is to develop a solid understanding of the fundamentals and latest technologies of mobile cellular communications networks, along with Wi-Fi and satellites.

After taking this course, you will be up to speed on the fundamental principles of cellular radio networks, components and operation, digital radio, spectrum-sharing technologies, and the generations of mobile cellular technology, including OFDM and how LTE and 5G implement OFDMA for dynamic capacity allocation, Wi-Fi 6 and Starlink.

Learning Objectives - What You Will Learn

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • Describe the basic concepts of a mobile communication system, identifying the principal components, the objectives of coverage, capacity and mobility, and the operation including registration and handoffs.
  • Explain what "cellular" means and why radio systems are designed as cellular systems.
  • Explain how digital cellular can be used for what used to be called “data” (now basically Internet access), using a phone as a tethered modem to connect a computer for internet access, using a phone as a Wi-Fi hotspot for other computers, or of course surfing the web and using apps directly from a smartphone.
  • Explain the principles and describe the operation of the different spectrum-sharing technologies: first-generation FDMA, second-generation TDMA vs. CDMA, third-generation 1X CDMA vs. UMTS CDMA and fourth-generation LTE and its OFDM.
  • Explain the basics of 802.11 wireless LANs, Wi-Fi and hotspots and compare and contrast that to cellular radio.
  • Describe the two basic strategies for communication satellites and the pros and cons of each.

Lessons In This Course

Lesson 1.  Course Introduction
The first lesson begins the course with an overview of the course and lessons, plus general radio principles. It provides both a walkthrough of the course and a sample of the quality of the course graphics, text and presentation.

Lesson 2.  Mobile Network Components, Jargon and Operation
The basic components  and operation of a mobile communication network, including handset, airlink, antennas, base station, transceiver, mobile switch, backhaul, registration and handoffs.

Lesson 3.  Cellular Principles
In this lesson, we’ll begin with the requirements on the communication system: mobility, coverage and capacity, then cover the idea of a cellular radio system, and how it is used to meet the coverage requirement, how frequency-division multiplexing was used to meet the capacity requirement in the first generation of cellular.

Lesson 4. PSTN Calls Using the Phone App: “Voice Minutes”
We’ll explore how voice is communicated over the radio access network, and how it connects to the world to make regular telephone calls. In this lesson, we’ll understand POPs, Toll Centers and the legacy Tandem Access Trunks used to connect the mobile network to the local phone company, other Local Exchange Carriers like cable TV companies and competing mobile operators, and to Inter-Exchange Carriers.

Lesson 5. Mobile Internet: “Data Plan”
Next, we’ll understand how the mobile network connects to the Internet at Internet Exchanges, transit and peering, and how devices can connect to the handset to gain access to its Internet connection, using it as a tethered modem, implementing a Wi-Fi access point in the handset, connecting with Bluetooth; or using the smartphone itself.

Lesson 6. Spectrum-Sharing Technologies: FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, OFDM
Cellphones transmit and receive signals over shared radio bands. To separate users so that they do not interfere with one another, nor hear each other’s conversations, service providers use one of four radio band or spectrum sharing methods: Frequency-Division Multiple Access (FDMA), Time-Division Multiple Access (TDMA), Code-Division Multiple Access (CDMA) and Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiplexing (OFDM).

Lesson 7. 4G LTE: Mobile Broadband
After more than 20 years of incompatible 1G, 2G and 3G systems, 4G was the first world standard for mobile. Since 4G, along with 5G, DSL, Cable modems and Wi-Fi all use OFDM, we’ll spend some time understanding OFDM, subcarriers and modulation, and how 4G implements OFDMA to support multiple users.

Lesson 8. 5G New Radio: Enhanced Mobile Broadband, IoT
In the last lesson on mobility, we’ll explore the fifth generation, called New Radio in standards committees. You’ll learn about the new spectrum for 5G, from the 600 MHz to millimeter-wave bands, and the bit rates to be expected at each. We’ll discuss the design goals for 5G, and finish with use cases including low-bandwidth IoT applications and ultra-bandwidth for VR.

Lesson 9. Wi-Fi: 802.11 Wireless LANs
Here, we provide an overview of the 802.11 wireless LAN standards, Wi-Fi and hotspots. We concentrate on understanding the variations of 802.11, the frequency bands they operate in, bit rates to be expected, propagation issues, and Wi-Fi 6, which is 802.11ac, the first to implement OFDMA.

Since 802.11 is wireless LANs, there are a number of associated topics: LAN frames, also called MAC frames, MAC addresses, LAN switches, IP addresses, routers and network address translation. 

Those topics are covered in other courses, particularly “Ethernet, LANs and VLANs”, “Introduction to Datacom and Networking” and “IP Networks, Routers and Addresses”. 

In this course, we concentrate on radio.

Lesson 10. Communication Satellites
In this last lesson of the course, we will take a quick overview of communication satellites, understanding the basic principles and the advantages and disadvantages of the two main strategies: Geosynchronous Earth Orbit and Low Earth Orbit, with an update on Iridium Next and Elon Musk’s Starlink.

CTNS Study Guide and Companion Reference Textbook

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Overview of Courses in the CTNS Certification Package

The Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist Certification Package begins with the Public Switched Telephone Network, then a course on Wireless Telecommunications, followed by four courses covering IP telecommunications and IP telecom networks.

If you are interested only in IP telecommunications, the CIPTS: Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist package may be appropriate, as it skips the traditional telephony and wireless and goes directly to the IP telecommunications courses.

A cornerstone of a full, rounded knowledge of telecommunications, is the history, structure and operation of the Public Switched Telephone Network built over the past 135 years, still in operation in every country on earth, and connecting to or being replaced by new IP telecom network technologies.

Loops and Trunks   •  POTS   •  Circuit-Switching   •  LECs, CLECs and IXCs   •  Analog   •  Voiceband   •  DTMF   •  SS7
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2201 The PSTN

We begin with a history lesson, understanding how and why telephone networks and the companies that provide them are organized into local access and inter-city transmission, or as we will see, Local Exchange Carriers (LECs) and Inter-Exchange Carriers (IXCs).

Then we will establish a basic model for the PSTN and understand its main components: Customer Premise, Central Office, loop, trunk, outside plant, circuit switching, attenuation, loop length, remotes, and why knowledge of the characteristics of the loop remains essential knowledge even though we are moving to Voice over IP.

Next, we'll cover aspects of telephony and Plain Ordinary Telephone Service, including analog, the voiceband, twisted pair, supervision and signaling including DTMF. The course is completed with an overview of SS7, the control system for the telephone network in the US and Canada.

On completion of this course, you will be able to draw a model of the Public Switched Telephone Network, identify and explain its components and technologies including:

  • Loops and trunks, CO, telephone switches and circuit-switching
  • Twisted pair, the outside plant, remotes, fiber to the neighborhood
  • The founding, breakup and re-emergence of AT&T in the US; Bell & TELUS in Canada
  • LECs, IXCs and CLECs
  • Plain Ordinary Telephone Service (POTS):
  • Analog, the voiceband, how it relates to copper wires, electricity, circuits and sound
  • Supervision, dial tone, ringing, lightning protection, tip and ring, -48 volts
  • Touch-tone and DTMF
  • Basics of SS7 and call routing
Mobile Network Fundamentals • Cellular Principles • Digitized Voice over Radio • Mobile Internet • FDMA, TDMA, CDMA and OFDM • 4G LTE and OFDMA • 5G: New Spectrum, Ultra-Broadband and IoT • Wi-Fi 6 802.11ax • Communication Satellites
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2206 Wireless Telecommunications

We begin with basic concepts and terminology involved in mobile networks, including base stations and transceivers, mobile switches and backhaul, handoffs, cellular radio concepts and digital radio concepts.

Next, we understand how phone calls are made over radio and how they connect to landlines; and how mobile internet is implemented, tethered modems and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots.

Without bogging down on details, we'll review spectrum-sharing technologies: FDMA for first generation; 2G GSM/TDMA, 3G CDMA and 4G and 5G OFDM.

We'll understand how modems represent bits on subcarriers in OFDM, and how OFDMA is used in 4G and 5G to dynamically assign subcarrier(s) to users.

This is followed with Wi-Fi, or more precisely, 802.11 wireless LANs: the system components, frequency bands, bitrates and coverage for all of the versions up to Wi-Fi 6 which is 802.11ax, the first Wi-Fi to implement full-duplex communications with multiple simultaneous devices using OFDMA and a theoretical 9.6 Gb/s.

The course is completed with communications satellites, in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit and Low Earth Orbit, including Iridium Next and Starlink.

You'll gain a solid understanding of the key principles of wireless and mobile networks:

  • Radio fundamentals
  • Mobile network components and operation
  • Coverage, capacity and mobility
  • Why cellular radio systems are used
  • Registration and handoffs
  • Digitized voice over radio for PSTN phone calls
  • Mobile Internet: "Data Plan"
  • Cellular technologies: FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, OFDM
  • 4G LTE and OFDMA
  • 5G: new spectrum, more b/s, ultra-broadband and IoT
  • Wi-Fi: 802.11 wireless LANs, Wi-Fi 6 / 802.11ax
  • GEO and LEO satellite communications

The remaining four courses in the CTNS package are on the "IP" telecommunications network and its three main enabling technologies: Ethernet, IP and MPLS, and beginning with the OSI model and its layers to establish a framework.

If you'd prefer to take just these four "IP" courses, check out the Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist package.

Protocols & Standards   •  OSI Model   •  Layers   •  Protocol Stacks   •  How Protocol Stacks Work
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2212 OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks

This course establishes a framework for all of the subsequent discussions: the OSI 7-Layer Reference Model, which identifies and divides the functions to be performed into groups called layers.

This framework is required to sort out the many functions that need to be performed, and to be able to discuss separate issues separately.

First, we'll define the term "protocol" and compare that to a standard. Then we'll define "layer" and how a layered architecture operates, and provide an overview of the name, purpose and function of each of the seven layers in the OSI model.

Then, we'll go back through the story more slowly, with one lesson for each of the layers, examining in greater detail the functions that have to be performed and giving examples of protocols and how and where they are used to implement particular layers.

The result is a protocol stack, one protocol on top of another on top of another to fulfill all of the required functions. To make this more understandable, this course ends with the famous FedEx Analogy illustrating the concepts using company-to-company communications, and an analogy of Babushka dolls to illustrate how the protocol headers are nested at the bits level.

On completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Define a protocol and differentiate that from a standard
  • Explain why a layered architecture is required
  • List the seven layers of the OSI model, the name, purpose and functions of each
  • Explain how the layers relate to each other
  • Explain how a protocol stack operates and protocol headers.
MAC Addresses   •  802.3 and Ethernet   •  Broadcast Domains   •  LAN Cables   •  LAN Switches   •  VLANs
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2211 Ethernet, LANs and VLANs
This course is everything you need to know about LANs.  As we will see in the OSI Layers course, this course could also be titled "Layer 2".
We'll begin with the original LAN: Ethernet and its bus topology, defining "broadcast domain" and explaining its fundamental operation and characteristics: CSMA-CD access control, MAC addresses and MAC frames.
Then we'll cover the IEEE 802 standards and the evolution of Ethernet from 10BASE-T to Gig-E, LAN cables and the TIA-568 cable categories, basic cabling design; what "bridging" means and how a LAN switch works.
This course is completed with the important concept of VLANs: defining broadcast domains in software, a key part of basic network security practice.
On completion of this course, you will be able to explain
• Ethernet and the original bus design
• What a broadcast domain is
• What MAC addresses are
• The access control mechanism
• The IEEE 802 series of standards, 802.2 and 802.3
• Gigabit Ethernet on copper and fiber
• Codes like 100BASE-T
• LAN cables and the TIA-568 cable categories
• LAN switches, also called "Layer 2" switches
• How and why VLANs are used to separate devices
IP Packets   •  Packet Networks   •  Routers   •  Static, Dynamic, Public, Private Addresses   •  NAT   •  IPv6
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2213 IP Networks, Routers and Addresses
This is a comprehensive course on IP addresses, routers and packets. Referring to the OSI Layers, this course could also be called Layer 3. We begin with the two basic principles of packet networks: bandwidth on demand, also known as overbooking or statistical multiplexing; and packet-switching, also known as packet forwarding or routing.
We'll understand what routers do and where they are located, routing tables and the basic operation of a router and the standard strategy deploying an edge router between the LANs and the WAN at each location.
Then we'll cover IP version 4: address classes and how they are assigned to Regional Internet Registries then ISPs then end-users, dotted-decimal notation, static addresses, dynamic addresses and DHCP, public addresses, private addresses and NAT.
The course concludes with IPv6: the IPv6 packet and changes from IPv4, IPv6 address allocations and assignments and end up understanding how IPv6 subnets will be assigned to broadcast domains and 18 billion billion addresses per residence.

On completion of this course, you will be able to explain:

  • What a packet is
  • What a router is
  • Overbooking and bandwidth on demand
  • Why and how it can be implemented
  • What a network is, what a private network is
  • How routers implement a network by connecting links
  • How routers move packets between broadcast domains
  • Basic network design and security: packet filtering
  • The basic structure and contents of a routing table
  • The Customer Edge
  • IPv4 address blocks: Class A, Class B and Class C
  • Dotted-decimal notation
  • Static addresses and dynamic addresses
  • DHCP and how and why it is used to assign both
  • Public addresses and private addresses
  • How, why and where each is used
  • NAT: Network Address Translation
  • IPv6
  • How IPv6 addresses are allocated to ISPs
  • How each residence gets 18 billion billion IPv6 addresses
Carrier Packet Networks   •  Technologies   •  MPLS   •  SLAs   •  CoS   •  Integration & Aggregation
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2214 MPLS and Carrier Networks

MPLS and Carrier Networks is a comprehensive, up-to-date course on the networks companies like AT&T build and operate, how they are implemented, the services they offer, and how customers connect to the network.
The IP packets and routing of the previous course is one part of the story. Performance guarantees, and methods for quality of service, traffic management, aggregation and integration is another big part of the story, particularly once we leave the lab and venture into the real world and the business of telecommunications services.
We'll begin by establishing a basic model for a customer obtaining service from a provider, defining Customer Edge, Provider Edge, access and core, and a Service Level Agreement: traffic profile vs. transmission characteristics.
Next, we'll understand virtual circuits, a powerful tool used for traffic management and how they are implemented with MPLS, explaining the equipment, jargon and principles of operation.
Without bogging down on details, we’ll cut through buzzwords and marketing to demystify:

  • Carrier packet networks and services
  • Customer Edge (CE) and Provider Edge (PE)
  • Service Level Agreements
  • Traffic profiles
  • Virtual circuits
  • QoS, Class of Service and Differentiated Services
  • Integration, convergence and aggregation
  • MPLS and other network technologies
  • How this relates to TCP/IP
  • How MPLS is used for business customer VPNs
  • How MPLS is used for integrated access:
  • How all services are carried together on one circuit
  • How MPLS is used to prioritize and manage IP packets
  • MPLS services" vs. the Internet
This course can be taken by those who need just an introduction to carrier networks and MPLS, as well as by those who need to establish a solid base on which to build more detailed knowledge.
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About TCO Certification

Teracom is an Accredited Training Partner of the Telecommunications Certification Organization, authorized to administer exams for TCO certifications on the myTeracom Learning Management System and award TCO Certifications.

TCO Certification is proof of your knowledge of telecom, datacom and networking fundamentals, jargon, buzzwords, technologies and solutions.

It's backed up with a Certificate suitable for framing - plus a personalized Letter of Reference / Letter of Introduction detailing the knowledge your TCO Certification represents and inviting the recipient to contact Teracom for verification.

You may list Teracom Training Institute as a reference on your résumé if desired.

Getting your Certificate

Each course has a course exam, consisting of ten multiple-choice questions chosen at random from a pool and shuffled in order. Passing the course exams proves your knowledge of these topics and results in your certification as a Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist.

Your Certificate and Letter of Reference / Letter of Introduction will be immediately available for download from your Dashboard in the myTeracom Learning Management System. You may also order a signed and sealed Certificate by airmail.
Choosing the "Unlimited Plan" at registration allows you to repeat courses and/or exams at no additional charge – which means guaranteed to pass if you're willing to learn.

Alternatively, if you like this discounted package of courses, but don't need the certification – or don't feel like writing exams – no problem! Take the Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non‑Engineers course package, which includes the same courses as the CTNS certification package, without the certification exams.

Benefits of Certification for Individuals

One benefit of TCO certification is differentiating yourself from the rest of the crowd when applying for a job or angling for a promotion.

The knowledge you gain taking Teracom's Online Courses, confirmed with TCO Certification, is foundational knowledge in telecommunications, IP, networking and wireless: fundamental concepts, mainstream technologies, jargon, buzzwords, and the underlying ideas - and how it all fits together.

This type of knowledge and preparation makes you an ideal candidate to hire or promote to a task, as you will be able to build on your knowledge base to quickly get up to speed and work on a particular project - then have the versatility to work on subsequent projects.

TCO Certification will help demonstrate you have this skill... a desirable thought to have in your potential manager's mind.

Benefits of Certification for Employers

Take advantage of these courses for individual learning, a team, or for an entire organization.

The scalable myTeracom Learning Management System can register and manage all of your people through their courses, lessons and exams, and generate management reports showing progress and scores with the click of a button.

For larger organizations, the courses and exams can also be licensed and deployed on an organization's internal LMS.

Teracom certification packages are an extremely cost-effective way of implementing consistent, comprehensive telecommunications and networking technology fundamentals training, ensuring that both existing resources and new hires are up to the same speed, with a common vocabulary, framework and knowledge base.

The course exams provide concrete measurements of competency in key knowledge areas. Management can view the progress and results of all team members and export the results to Excel with the click of a button.

These reports identify skills deficiencies and strengths, and provide tangible proof of return on investment and team readiness for reports to upper management.

Teracom Advantages

  • Training based on Teracom's proven instructor-led training courses developed and refined over more than twenty years providing training for organizations including AT&T, Verizon, Bell Canada, Intel, Microsoft, Cisco, Qualcomm, the CIA, NSA, IRS, FAA, US Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force and hundreds of others, Teracom online courses are top-notch, top-quality and right up to date with the topics and knowledge you need.
  • Proven courses used by the biggest telecom carriers to train their employees
    These courses are the same courses used by the biggest telecom carriers in the business to train their employees - constantly updated to deliver the core technical knowledge required in the telecom business today. This is the best quality training of its kind available.
  • GSA Schedule
    Teracom online courses and certification packages are on our US Government supply contract... which took two years and a 200-page application... so you know you are getting quality.
  • 30-Day 100% Money-Back Guarantee
    You are protected by Teracom's 30-day, no-questions-asked, 100% money-back guarantee.  terms and conditions
  • Career-enhancing knowledge
    This training is an ideal way to implement a career-enhancing upgrade to your knowledge, or to prepare for a job in the telecommunications business.
  • Guaranteed to Pass with the Unlimited Plan
    Choose the Unlimited Plan for unlimited repeats of courses and exams - which means you can retake courses to refresh your knowledge in the future, and guaranteed to pass the exam if you're willing to learn.  unlimited plan info
  • Certificate and Letter of Reference
    In addition to your TCO Certificate, you will also receive – a Teracom exclusive – a personalized Letter of Reference / Letter of Introduction explaining the courses you took and the knowledge you have, and inviting anyone you give it to to contact Teracom a reference... an excellent addition to your CV.
  • Self-paced training
    The courses and their lessons can be done at your own pace. There are no time limits for completing a lesson and moving to the next one. The courses may be done in any order.
  • Team training
    These courses are a highly cost-effective and consistent way for managers to get team members up to a common speed with measurable results. The myTeracom Learning Management System provides management reports showing your team's progress with a few clicks of the mouse.  more info

What is the value of the CTNS certification?  Click here to find out