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Course 2214 MPLS and Carrier Networks - Lesson 1: Introduction

Welcome to MPLS and Carrier Networks.
This free online network training course lesson is the introduction to the course.

This course is part of the CTNS Certification Package, a set of six courses plus Telecommunications Certification Organization (TCO) Certified Telecommunications Network Specialist certification. It is also in the four-course "IP" package, the Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist (CIPTS) Certification Package. CTNS is more complete training, six courses beginning with the PSTN, plus wireless then the four CIPTS "IP" courses.

In the previous course, we used a private network, i.e. dedicated point-to-point circuits connected with routers, as the simplest framework for understanding packets, bandwidth on demand, routers, and network addresses.

In this course, we will take the same idea and apply it again at the carrier network level: replacing the dedicated lines between customer locations from the simple framework of the previous course with bandwidth on demand service from a carrier between the customer locations.

We'll spend much of this course understanding a powerful traffic management tool called virtual circuits, how they are implemented with MPLS, and how MPLS can be used to provide differentiated services, aggregate traffic and implement convergence.
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Lesson Notes
Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:
  • Explain the components and basic structure of a carrier packet network including core, provider edge, access and customer edge,
  • List three ways carrier packet services are better than dedicated lines or ISDN for wide-area networking,
  • Define a Service Level Agreement, Class of Service and traffic profile,
  • Define a traffic class and explain what a virtual circuit is, and what virtual circuits are used for,
  • Differentiate between a reliable and unreliable Class of Service and what must be done to accommodate the latter, and briefly explain connection-oriented and connectionless communication modes,
  • Explain the fundamentals of Frame Relay: how Frame Relay got its name, how IP is carried over Frame Relay, why TCP is also required, and the traffic profiles supported by Frame Relay,
  • Identify the steps involved in communicating voice in packets, and what transmission characteristics are critical to call quality,
  • Briefly describe the characteristics of ATM and the classes of service it was supposed to implement to support telephone calls,
  • Show how MPLS is essentially the same thing as X.25, Frame Relay and ATM but with different jargon – and identify that jargon
  • Define the meaning and purpose of a label, and identify where the label is placed in which header,
  • Trace the flow of a message transported by TCP in IP packets over an MPLS network,
  • Identify the benefit of MPLS compared to Frame Relay from the user’s point of view,
  • Explain what Differentiated Services are, and how MPLS labels can be used to implement Diff-Serv, and an alternative,
  • Explain how and why MPLS can be used to achieve service integration,
  • Show how MPLS can be used to aggregate traffic,
  • Explain what exactly someone means when they say “MPLS service” and explain why “IP service with a service level agreement” would be a more accurate term, and
  • Identify two differences between MPLS service and Internet service, and the pros and cons of each.
traffic classes

Different Traffic Classes

List of Lessons

Lesson 1. Course Introduction (this one).

Lesson 2. Carrier Packet Network Basics 
The fundamental concepts of packet switching and bandwidth-on-demand or overbooking, the physical components involved in using a carrier packet network service including Customer Edge, types of access circuits, the Provider Edge and the network core – and why PE equipment is sometimes deployed at the customer premise.  This lesson is completed with a roundup of the benefits of packet services over dedicated lines and circuit-switched connections.
Lesson 3. Service Level Agreements: Traffic Profile and Class of Service
How performance is specified, measured, guaranteed and controlled on an overbooked bandwidth-on-demand network –  the Service Level Agreement where the network guarantees specified transmission characteristics, sometimes called a Class of Service, on condition that the customer stays within a defined traffic profile … and what happens to out-of-profile traffic.
Lesson 4. Virtual Circuits
The fundamentals of virtual circuits, an essential part of all packet communication networks. We’ll cover the concepts of traffic classes, virtual circuits, virtual circuit IDs and the fundamental principles of operation that are common to all technologies, including MPLS, and how virtual circuits are a powerful traffic management tool.
Lesson 5. X.25: Data Packet Service from The Phone Company
Beginning with this lesson, we’ll run through the main virtual circuit technologies, starting with X.25.  We won’t spend any time on details of X.25, as it was replaced with Frame Relay then MPLS, but instead use it to introduce a graphical method of showing how packets travel between routers in frames over physical connections from user to network to user, plus concepts and jargon including connection-oriented vs. connectionless network service and reliable Class of Service vs. unreliable and pave the way for understanding current technologies Frame Relay and MPLS, and the improvements each brought to the table.
Lesson 6. Frame Relay
How Frame Relay was an improvement, why it’s called “Frame Relay” along with other jargon, and why IP and TCP are required in conjunction with Frame Relay service. We’ll identify the equipment used for Frame Relay and the traffic profiles it supports.
Lesson 7. TCP/IP over Frame Relay
In this lesson, we’ll trace the flow of information from a server to a client across a Frame Relay service, identifying the protocol stacks on the terminals and edge equipment.  This will allow understanding how Frame Relay network service from a carrier relates to TCP and IP used by a customer, and the requirements for connecting to a carrier’s Frame Relay service.
Lesson 8. QoS Requirement for Voice Over IP
Packet network services were originally designed for data communication.  In this lesson, we’ll understand how live voice is packetized, carried over a packet network, then reconstructed at the far end – and the transmission characteristics necessary for voice quality.
Lesson 9. ATM
ATM was supposed to be The Solution, allowing integration and convergence of all services on a packet network, as it was designed to guarantee the transmission characteristics necessary for voice and video in packets – but it became horribly complicated and expensive and is on the way out, so will simply provide an overview of ATM and its jargon.
Lesson 10. MPLS
IP has emerged as the standard for packets that will be used to carry all traffic.  However, since IP provides a  connectionless network service, additional protocols are required to implement virtual circuits on IP networks to enable management and prioritization of traffic.  The choice for virtual circuits over IP is Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS).  The concepts are the same as other virtual circuit technologies X.25, Frame Relay and ATM… but the jargon is changed.  We’ll begin by identifying MPLS components, jargon and basic principles of operation.
Lesson 11. TCP/IP over MPLS
In this lesson, we’ll revisit tracing the path of a file download from server to client, this time over an MPLS network.  This will reveal a significant advantage of MPLS-based network services compared to Frame Relay in the user-network interface.  We’ll also discuss the “M” in MPLS, noting how MPLS can be used to carry frames for VPLS in addition to the usual IP packets.
Lesson 12. Differentiated Classes of Service using MPLS
Here, we’ll examine how classifying traffic and mapping classes onto virtual circuits can be a Quality of Service (QoS) mechanism to implement multiple Classes of Service on a packet network. This is sometimes referred to as differentiated services or Diff-Serv, i.e. providing a different Class of Service for each application: VoIP, IPTV, email, web surfing and others. 
Lesson 13. Integration and Convergence using MPLS
In this lesson, we’ll see how virtual circuits and traffic classification can be used to combine all of the types of communications of a business or organization onto a single access circuit.  This idea is sometimes called convergence, though service integration is a more accurate term. It results in a large cost savings compared to one access circuit for each type of communications. 
Lesson 14. Managing Aggregates of Traffic with Label Stacking
Here, we’ll understand how MPLS labels can be stacked. In other words, virtual circuits carried over other virtual circuits, and how this is implemented to aggregate traffic for both routing and prioritization reasons – both on access circuits and in the network core.

Lesson 15. MPLS Services vs. Internet Service
This lesson completes the course on carrier packet network services with a discussion of terminology used in sales and marketing of MPLS services, and how that translates to reality. We will use a quiz question-and-answer format to understand the difference between Internet service and what sales brochures often call “MPLS service”… and what exactly an “MPLS service” is.


Technical Background
A router is a device than relays packets from one circuit to another on a first-come, first-served, packet-by-packet basis.  Knowing which circuit to relay the packet to is the routing part of the story, also called packet switching and packet forwarding.

Routers implement bandwidth on demand by not reserving a fraction of the capacity of the connecting circuit for each device (channelizing), but instead giving each device the possibility of using the full capacity of the connecting circuit – when there is something to transmit.

Since devices generate traffic in bursts, and normally have nothing to transmit, many more devices can be connected to the circuit using bandwidth on demand instead of channelizing.

This is called overbooking or oversubscribing. It is done on purpose, to give the users the highest performance for the lowest cost.

In this course, we examine the at the carrier network level: replacing the dedicated lines between customer locations from the simple framework of the previous course with bandwidth on demand service from a carrier between the customer locations.

This brings the same benefit to the customer as it did to individual devices in the previous course: the highest performance for the lowest cost.

All of the carrier’s customers in a city are given access to the same high-speed intercity circuits, with the possibility of transmitting to other cities at full line speed – but only when they have something to transmit.

This is called a packet network service provided by a carrier.

This type of service is used by businesses (including government, organizations and other carriers) to implement cost-effective, flexible, high-speed packet communications between specific locations.

It is, of course, the same story for the packet networks built by carriers and connected to form the Internet. 

Overbooking connections between routers implements bandwidth on demand for the users. In a commercial environment, for banks, government, other carriers, the next questions would be "how MUCH bandwidth on demand" and "how often do we get that"?
This course focuses on the technologies for managing traffic and guaranteeing performance for commercial users on an overbooked network.
After covering the basic architecture, we'll discuss the "guarantee", called a Service Level Agreement, and then the critical ideas of virtual circuits and traffic classes, implemented in the past with ATM and Frame Relay, and most importantly, how MPLS today uses these ideas to implement different service levels, aggregation, integration and convergence.
We'll complete the discussion by understanding what sales people mean when they say "MPLS Service" and compare that to Internet service.
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  Loops and Trunks • POTS • Circuit-Switching • LECs, CLECs and IXCs • Analog • Voiceband • DTMF • SS7
  overview brochure free lesson 1: course introduction
Wireless Telecommunications
  Master the fundamentals of wireless telecom, concentrating on cellular mobile voice and data.
Understand radio communications from basic principles to mobility and cellular from GSM to LTE, plus WiFi.
  Mobility • Cellular Networks • Internet over Cellular • GSM and TDMA • UMTS and 1X CDMA • LTE • WiFi • Satellite
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The OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
  Learn the difference between a layer, a protocol and a standard. Establish a framework to build structured knowledge and discuss separate issues separately. Understand how fiber, Ethernet, IP and TCP fit together.
  Protocols & Standards • OSI Model • Layers • Protocol Stacks • How Protocol Stacks Work
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Ethernet, LANs and VLANs
  Understand LANs, broadcast domains, Ethernet and 802, MAC addresses and MAC frames, LAN cable categories, bridging, LAN switches and VLANs... Layer 2 of the OSI model.
  MAC Addresses • 802.3 and Ethernet • Broadcast Domains • LAN Cables • LAN Switches • VLANs
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IP Networks, Routers and Addresses
  Learn how routers implement a network by relaying packets, how IP addresses are used to do this, static addresses, dynamic addresses and DHCP, public addresses, private addresses and NAT, and IPv6.
  IP Packets • Networks • Routers • Static, Dynamic, Public, Private Addresses • NAT • IPv6
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MPLS and Carrier Networks
  Get up to speed on carrier networks and services, customer edge, provider edge, QoS, CoS and Service Level Agreements, MPLS and how MPLS is used for VPNs, service integration and traffic aggregation.
  Carrier Packet Networks • Technologies • MPLS • SLAs • CoS • Integration & Aggregation
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Overview of Courses included in the CTNS Certification Package
Like Teracom's famous core training Course 101 "Telecom, Datacom and Networking for Non-Engineers", our very popular core training DVD-Video packages and the Telecom 101 textbook, 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.
If your goal is to build a full, rounded knowledge of telecommunications, then understanding the history, structure and operation of the telephone network built over the past 135 years or more is the starting point for everything else.
Course 2201 The PSTN
Loops and Trunks   •  POTS   •  Circuit-Switching   •  LECs, CLECs and IXCs   •  Analog   •  Voiceband   •  DTMF   •  SS7
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
Course 2206 Wireless Telecommunications
Mobility   •  Cellular Networks   •  Internet over Cellular   •  GSM and TDMA   •  UMTS and 1X CDMA   •  LTE   •  WiFi   •  Satellite
In many parts of the world, particularly outside Canada, the US and Western Europe, this is the physical telephone network, as deploying radio transceivers is far cheaper than embarking on a new project to pull copper wires and/or fiber to every residence.
Most of this course is devoted to mobile wireless telecommunications. We begin with basic concepts and terminology including base stations and transceivers, mobile switches and backhaul, handoffs, cellular radio concepts and digital radio concepts.
Then, we cover spectrum-sharing technologies and their variations in chronological order: GSM/TDMA vs. CDMA for second generation, 1X vs. UMTS CDMA for third generation along with their data-optimized 1XEV-DO and HSPA, how Steve Jobs ended the standards wars with the iPhone and explaining the OFDM spectrum-sharing method of LTE for 4G.
This course is completed with a lesson on WiFi, or more precisely, 802.11 wireless LANs, and a lesson on satellite communications.
You’ll gain a solid understanding of the key principles of wireless and mobile networks:
• Coverage, capacity and mobility
• Why cellular radio systems are used
• Mobile network components and operation
• Registration and handoffs
• Digital radio
• "Data" over cellular: Internet access
• Cellular technologies: FDMA, TDMA, CDMA, OFDM
• Generations: 1G, 2G, 3G, 4G
• Systems: GSM, UMTS, 1X, HSPA, LTE
• WiFi, 802.11 wireless LANs
• 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, please check out the Certified IP Telecom Network Specialist package.
Course 2212 The OSI Layers and Protocol Stacks
Protocols & Standards   •  OSI Model   •  Layers   •  Protocol Stacks   •  How Protocol Stacks Work
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
• E
xplain 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.
Course 2111 Ethernet, LANs and VLANs - which could also be titled "Layer 2"
MAC Addresses   •  802.3 and Ethernet   •  Broadcast Domains   •  LAN Cables   •  LAN Switches   •  VLANs
This course is everything you need to know about LANs.
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
Course 2213 IP Networks, Routers and Addresses - which could also be titled "Layer 3"

IP Packets   •  Packet Networks   •  Routers   •  Static, Dynamic, Public, Private Addresses   •  NAT   •  IPv6  

This is a comprehensive course on IP addresses, routers and packets. 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

Course 2214 MPLS and Carrier Networks
Carrier Packet Networks   •  Technologies   •  MPLS   •  SLAs   •  CoS   •  Integration & Aggregation
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 a Gold 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.
Based on Teracom's proven instructor-led training courses developed and refined over 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.

Get started today to make this invaluable addition to your knowledge and skills!     


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