The OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
Lesson 3: Protocols and Standards

In this lesson, we'll understand what is meant by the term "protocol", and how that relates to the concept of a standard. We will also start considering how many functions have to be performed to interoperate systems, and how these functions might be organized.

This free online network training course lesson is in both the CTNS Certification Package and the CTA Certification Package.

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Certification Packages That Include This Course

CTNS Certification Package

Eight online courses plus TCO Certification covering the core knowledge needed for telecommunications today:
  • Introduction to Broadband Converged IP Telecom
  • Wireless Telecommunications
  • Fundamentals of Voice over IP
  • The PSTN
  • The OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
  • LANs, VLANs, Wireless and Optical Ethernet
  • 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.

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CIPTS Certification Package

Four online courses covering the IP telecom network, plus the TCO Certified IP Telecom Specialist certification.

  • The OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
  • LANs, VLANs, Wireless and Optical Ethernet
  • IP Networks, Routers and Addresses
  • MPLS and Carrier Networks

TCO Certification, Certificate and Letter of Reference.

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30-day, 100% money-back guarantee

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CTSME Certification Package

The TCO Certified Telecommunications Subject Matter Expert (CTSME) is the most comprehensive telecom, datacom,  networking, wireless, VoIP and SIP training and certification available anywhere.

CTSME encompasses four TCO Certifications: CTA, CVA, CWA and CTNS. You get all four certifications, with their courses, bundled with a discount in the CTSME Certification Package.

Complete all four to get your Certified Telecommunications Subject Matter Expert credential, including a framed TCO CTMSE Certificate and personal Letter of Introduction for your résumé.

Five TCO Certifications, Five Certificates and Letter of Reference. 30-day, 100% money-back guarantee

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Study Guide Notes For This Lesson

These are the words that are displayed and spoken during the lesson. Get these notes for the whole course in the Certification Study Guide, available in print or eBook. Many people tell us a printed companion book enhances their learning!

What is a protocol?

We use the term protocol in the data communications business the same way it is used in the diplomacy business: it is a plan for how two different systems will interact.

In diplomacy, protocol officers get together in advance and hammer out the plan: it says who is going to greet whom at the bottom of the steps of the aircraft, what color the carpet is going to be, what music the band will be playing, are you allowed to be sitting down while the president of the United States is in the room… the plan on how two countries will interact.

To communicate, we need to have a set of conventions that specifies how we are going to communicate. This is the definition of a protocol.

Mutual adherence to an agreed protocol or set of protocols makes communication possible.

In an open system, the protocols are published standards: everyone agrees on the protocols to be used.

Functions to be performed

Quite a number of areas and functions must be covered in a communication protocol.

Taking e-mail as an example, first, we have to agree what the format of the message will be.

How will the message be coded into 1s and 0s? Will it then be encrypted? We'd better have an agreed plan for that, or we won't be doing much communications...

Most communications today is client-server… and e-mail is an easy example. When checking Outlook-type email, it is necessary to log on to your mail server with a username and password and be authenticated… so part of the protocol has to be how to transmit usernames and passwords to the server.

One could imagine the mind-numbing complexities created if it is desired that the password not be transmitted as clear text, but encrypted as a measure against eavesdropping… how to transmit the decryption key for the password without encrypting it?

Once authenticated, then it is necessary to transport the message from the server to the client, and there are a number of things that have to be figured out.

We have to be able to perform segmentation and reassembly, breaking up the message into manageable pieces for transmission and putting it back together at the receiver… in the correct order.

We have to be able to encapsulate control information on the segment. An example of control information encapsulated on a segment of data is a network address.

Once we make a packet with a network address, how are routers going to make routing decisions based on those network addresses?

Probably the most important aspect is error control: sending data with errors and not knowing about it is probably worse than not sending any data at all.

Sometimes error control is performed on each link. Sometimes not. We always have to check errors end-to-end. 

How do we do flow control: when one system can't process information as fast as the other, and has to have a way of temporarily interrupting the flow of data. 

How do we do access control – when there is more than one station on the link, which gets to talk next?

At the bit level there are things that have to be resolved: what physical medium to use and how to represent the bits on the physical medium. How to do conversions between different media and different bit rates? 

All this and more has to be part of the plan.

Monolithic vs. structured protocols

There are two basic choices to come up with a plan: monolithic or structured protocols.

A monolithic protocol would embody all of the required functions in a single standard. The problem with this approach is that it becomes unwieldy when all possible variations are included in the single package, and makes maintenance impossible.

A structured approach, where we divide the totality of functions into easy pieces, then write protocols covering each of the pieces, is more workable.

This allows us to mix and match: for example, we could keep everything the same on all systems, but allow different locations to employ any type of local cabling and framing system they wished.

It would be possible for an individual to develop a set of open, structured protocols for communications.

This would only be useful if everyone, or at least a critical mass of users, agreed to use that particular set of protocols. 

We are always interested in implementing standard protocols.

Protocols vs. Standards

A protocol is a plan. A standard is when everyone agrees on a particular plan.

Diplomatic ProtocolDiplomatic Protocol

Learning Objectives - What You Will Learn

Upon completion of this course, you will be able to explain:
  • The definition of the term “protocol”, and how it is used in the communications business to mean a plan for how information will be exchanged.
  • All of the functions that must be part of the protocol, including message format, coding, authentication, reliable communications end-to-end, packets, routing and communications on a single circuit.
  • The maintenance and flexibility advantages of defining a structured set of protocols instead of a single monolithic protocol.
  • The definition of a standard as being a protocol everyone agrees to.
  • The names of the seven OSI Layers.
  • The purpose of each of the layers.
  • An example of a protocol implementing each of the layers.

Lessons In This Course

Lesson 1 is the Introduction to the Course.

Lesson 2 Open Systems, where we will discuss open vs. proprietary methods of communications.

Lesson 3 Protocols and Standards, where we will understand what a protocol is, monolithic vs. structured protocols, and how a standard relates to a protocol.

Lesson 4 The ISO OSI 7-Layer Reference Model, where we will introduce the model and how it operates, and give an overview of each of the layers in the model. Then we'll go over that again, more slowly, one layer at a time.

Lesson 5 The Physical Layer, moving bits over Fiber, Twisted Pair, Cable and Wireless.

Lesson 6 Layer 2, the Data Link Layer, where we will discuss frames, LANs and MAC Addresses.

Lesson 7 Layer 3, the Network Layer: IP, MPLS, Packets and Routers.

Lesson 8 The Transport Layer: Reliability, Ports and Sockets.

Lesson 9 The Session Layer: SIP, POP and HTTP.

Lesson 10 The Presentation Layer, where we'll discuss ASCII, MIME, Compression, Encryption, and Codecs.

Lesson 11 The Application Layer, where we will use SMTP, HTML and English as examples.

Lesson 12 Protocol Stacks: The FedEx Analogy, where we will use an analogy of company to company communications using FedEx to better understand how the layers interoperate with each other and how a protocol stack works.

Lesson 13 How the protocol stack works from a bits point of view, and how Protocol Headers end up being nested like Babushka Dolls.

Lesson 14 Standards Organizations, a brief overview of organizations that publish what they hope will become standard protocols for communications.

CTNS Study Guide and Companion Reference Textbook

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Overview of Courses in the CTNS Certification Package

Invest in yourself with Teracom’s CTNS Certification Package, eight online courses delivering a solid foundation in telecom, datacom and networking: understanding the fundamentals, technologies, jargon and buzzwords, and most importantly, the underlying ideas and how it all fits together… plus TCO Certification to prove it:

2241 Introduction to Broadband Converged IP Telecom
2206 Wireless Telecommunications
2221 Fundamentals of Voice over IP
2201 The PSTN
2212 OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
2211 LANs, VLANs, Wireless and Optical Ethernet
2213 IP Addresses, Packets and Routers
2214 MPLS and Carrier Networks

Benefit from decades of knowledge, insight and experience distilled into clear lessons, logically organized to build one concept on another. Get a major career-enhancing and productivity-enhancing knowledge upgrade – learning that you can't get on the job, reading magazines or talking to vendors.

Based on Teracom’s famous week-long instructor-led BOOT CAMP, the selection of material, its order, timing, and explanations are field-tested to deliver the core up-to-date knowledge set for today’s telecommunications.

The first four CTNS courses are on telecommunications, beginning with Introduction to Broadband Converged IP Telecom, an introduction and first pass through all of the topics; followed by Introduction to Voice over IP, then Wireless Telecommunications, including 5G and Wi-Fi 6, and the PSTN.

Convergence • Broadband • Network Core and Edge • Protocols • Last Mile Copper, Fiber and Wireless • Residential, Business and Wholesale Services • Network Equipment • Carrier Connections
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2241 Introduction to Broadband Converged IP Telecom

Introduction to Broadband Converged IP Telecom is a high-level wide-ranging introduction to the world of modern IP telecommunications.

This course is based on the first chapter of Teracom's famous instructor-led BOOT CAMP, getting a full week of training started with an introduction to all of the different aspects of the modern converged IP telecom network.

Designed specifically for non-engineers, It's a first pass through the topics, starting at the beginning, explaining the fundamental ideas, jargon, equipment and technologies, the services that are sold, the players, where the money is, and how it all fits together.

In subsequent courses, we'll take another pass and drill deeper into key areas like Wireless, VoIP, PSTN, Ethernet, IP and MPLS.

On completion of this telecommunications course online, you will be able to:
  • Define convergence, and two ways that it might be achieved
  • Define bandwidth, explain what broadband means and how much "broad" might be
  • Identify all of the main aspects of the modern broadband converged IP network, including the parts of the physical network, the three types of services, the equipment and players
  • Describe the network core, its purpose, performance requirements and how they are implemented
  • Identify the three primary network protocols: Ethernet, IP and MPLS, and what each does
  • Explain how MAC Frames and IP Packets go together
  • Identify the essential purpose of an IP address
  • Explain the essential advantage of MPLS over IP for routing
  • Define the three main technology areas for network access
  • List the most popular technologies in each
  • Describe the three components of a network service
  • Define the three main groupings of telecom services based on customer type
  • Describe at least four different meanings of the term VPN
  • Differentiate between streaming video vs. video from your ISP, and the essential difference between them
  • Explain in general what an MPLS VPN is and who uses it
  • Identify the key difference between MPLS VPN services and SD-WAN services
  • Explain what SIP trunking is and what legacy service it replaces
  • List at least four types of wholesale telecommunications services
  • Explain what a Data Center is
  • Explain the essential function of a router
  • Describe what a Layer 2 switch is used for, and how Layer 2 switches relate to routers
  • Define multiplexing
  • Identify three technologies that use Frequency-Division Multiplexing
  • Identify the name for FDM in the fiber optic world
  • Differentiate between FDM and Time-Division Multiplexing
  • Describe what a gateway is and the two functions it performs

This is quite a range of knowledge, and can appear daunting, especially if you are new to telecom. Keep in mind that this course is the introduction, the first pass through all of these topics.

No-one is expecting anyone to be an instant expert!

In subsequent courses, we take a second and sometimes third pass through the topics and drill deeper to more fully understand the concepts and technologies.

With this course, we're getting started identifying and understanding all of the aspects of modern broadband converged IP telecommunications.

Based on Teracom's famous Course 101, tuned and refined over the course of more than 20 years of instructor-led training, we'll cut through the jargon to demystify modern IP telecommunications, explaining the jargon and buzzwords, the underlying ideas, and how it all works together… in plain English.

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
Loops and Trunks   •  POTS   •  Circuit-Switching   •  LECs, CLECs and IXCs   •  Analog   •  Voiceband   •  DTMF   •  SS7
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2221 Fundamentals of Voice over IP

Jargon & Buzzwords • VoIP Phone System Components and Operation • Voice Packetization • LANs and WANs • VoIP Phones: MAC Address, DHCP, IP, UDP, RTP, QoS • SIP, Softswitches & SIP Trunking • Cloud • The Future

Fundamentals of Voice over IP is a complete introduction to everything Voice over IP. You'll learn the fundamental ideas and principles of a VoIP telephone system, VoIP, SIP & all the other jargon - what it actually means and how it all works together.

At each step, we'll also cover supporting and related technologies like Ethernet MAC frames and codecs and video over IP.

The objective of this course is to put in place a solid, structured base of knowledge in the technology and implementation of communicating thoughts from one person's brain to another via a telephone conversation carried in IP packets.

In particular, on completion of this course, you will be able to explain:

  • How a VoIP phone is more of a computer than a phone, and its computer functions
  • How a VoIP phone digitizes the speech coming into a microphone
  • The idea of adding a time stamp to a 20 ms segment of digitized speech 
  • How UDP adds a port number and error check
  • IP adds the called party's telephone's IP address and creates an IP packet
  • This is carried in a MAC frame over a physical circuit to the next router
  • Reconstructing the speech at the far end
  • What happens when packets with voice get delayed or lost
  • That SIP is the protocol for exchanging little text messages to start a phone call
  • What a video server is made of, where it is located, and what it does
  • What a gateway is and why it is needed
  • Wiring VoIP phones to Layer 2 aggregation and PoE switches in wiring closets
  • VoIP carrier services, including SIP trunking, MPLS VPN, Internet SD-WAN
  • What a Service Level Agreement is
  • How basic telecom service will be Broadband IP Dial Tone in the future, as the Internet and the telephone network become the same thing.
Loops and Trunks   •  POTS   •  Circuit-Switching   •  LECs, CLECs and IXCs   •  Analog   •  Voiceband   •  DTMF   •  SS7
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2201 The PSTN

One cornerstone of a full, rounded base of knowledge of telecommunications is the structure and operation of the Public Switched Telephone Network, built over the past 135 years, still in operation in every country on earth – knowledge necessary for connecting the PSTN to, and steadily replacing the PSTN with IP telecom technologies.

In this course, you'll build a solid understanding of the fundamentals of the telephone system: Customer Premise and Central Office, loops, trunks, remotes, circuit switching and how a telephone call is connected end-to-end. We'll cover LECs, CLECs and IXCs, sound, analog and the voiceband, twisted pair, DTMF and SS7. Updated for the 2020s.

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


The second half of CTNS is four courses on networking, delivering a practical understanding of Ethernet and its MAC frames, IP packets with IP addresses and routers, and the traffic management system MPLS. We begin with the OSI Reference Model and its Layers as a framework to organize the discussions.

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 • MAC Frames • Layer 2 Switches • VLANs • Ethernet on Copper • 1000BASE-T • Power over Ethernet • Cable Categories • Office Wiring Plan • Wireless Ethernet (Wi-Fi) • Optical Ethernet • Ethernet in the Core, MANs and PONs • Fiber Types • SFP Transceivers • Field Installation
TCO CTNS Certification Course 2211 LANs, VLANs, Wireless and Optical Ethernet

This course is all about Ethernet: the fundamentals, equipment and implementations including twisted-pair copper cables, wireless and fiber, in-building, in the network core, MANs and PONs.

You'll understand the jargon and buzzwords, the underlying ideas, and how it all works together to form the physical basis of the telecom network.

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

  • The idea of a broadcast domain.
  • The idea of a MAC addresses to identify a LAN interface on a station in a broadcast domain.
  • What MAC frames are, and what purpose they serve.
  • What a LAN switch is, and what it does.
  • How VLANs can be used to segregate devices into different broadcast domains. 
  • The IEEE 802 series of standards
  • The 802.3 standard and communicating MAC frames at 10 Mb/s on coaxial cables to Gigabit Ethernet on copper and fiber.
  • What the code 1000BASE-T means.
  • MAC frames over the Ether, a.k.a. Wi-Fi, the 2.4 and 5 GHz unlicensed bands, and the fundamentals of how the bits in MAC frames are communicated using radio carrier frequencies.
  • Wiring Ethernet to the work area with Cat 5, Cat 5e and Cat 6 twisted-pair copper-wire cables.
  • Wiring closets and Layer 2 aggregation switches.
  • What Optical Ethernet is, and how it is the building block of telecom networks, including Metropolitan Area Networks (MANs), carrier MPLS networks, and Passive Optical Networks (PONs) for fiber to the home.
  • The fundamentals of how the bits in MAC frames are communicated using light guided in glass tubes.
  • How fiber cables are deployed and connected to equipment at each end. What designations like 100GBASE-ER4 mean.
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