Jacob John has had a rewarding career in the sophisticated area of systems design, development and testing, writes Usha Ramanujam Arvind
Veteran telecommunications engineer Jacob John has won international recognition for his outstanding contributions to 3GPP or Third Generation Partnership Project, an innovation in the high-speed cellular services known as 3G.
John, who is a distinguished member of the Motorola Mobility’s Standards and Research Group, was bestowed an international standards award at the 3GPP Radio Access Network (RAN) Group meeting at Malta in February. John was nominated for the prestigious award by RAN5 chair John Brown of NTT DoCoMo, one of the world’s largest mobile communication operators.
Conferring the award, Brown stated that: “Jacob John has contributed significantly to the technical and managerial requirements of TSG RAN Working Group 5. Furthermore, he has carried his knowledge and technical expertise into the Global Certification Forum (GCF), greatly benefiting the wider device-related industry. In all aspects of his work he has been an outstanding ambassador for his company and RAN5 and thoroughly deserves the recognition within the 3GPP community.”
A joint collaboration between elite telecom groups in North America, Asia and Europe, 3GPP or the Third Generation Partnership Project is the international standards’ organisation responsible for the development of mobile communications standards of 3GPP technologies. These include the second generation (2G) global system for mobile communications or GSM, universal mobile telecommunications system or UMTS (3G) and long term evolution or LTE, the fourth generation communication network for high speed data transfer (4G). RAN is one of the four technical specification groups (TSG).
Talking to Indian Link about winning the award, John said, “(The award) means a lot to me as I feel honoured, but at the same time humbled, to be recognised by an international standards organisation – 3GPP. I definitely consider this award as one of my greatest achievements as a telecom professional.”
“It means a lot to my family as well who have been putting up with my frequent long haul travel and being away from home,” he added.
The award is in recognition of John’s extensive contribution as a leading test and certification expert not only in Australia, but worldwide.
He was unanimously elected as Vice Chair of 3GPP RAN5, a group covering all leading carriers, device vendors and test industry in 2009 and again in 2011. The RAN5 group is responsible for the development of conformance test standards for mobile phones. “These standards are then applied in the certification of mobile phones by certification organisations like GCF,” he explained.
John’s core area of expertise is technical management and leadership in the field of wireless protocol development, testing and certification.
To be a successful leader in 3GPP, John believes that one has to combine strong technical proficiency with astute diplomatic skills. Displaying fairness and consideration, the role seeks to find consensus among competing stakeholders. Through his unique leadership style, he has not only managed timely development, but also strictly adhered to high international conformance standards.
In 2011, John was a finalist for the Australian Communications Ambassador Award for his strong leadership skills and visible contribution to the telecom industry.
“I took the lead role of aligning Australian regulatory requirements with the relevant international standards. Being one of the few delegates in 3GPP and Global Certification Forum (GCF) from Australia, I have always promoted Australian interests and requirements in these forums,” he said.
He has made extensive inputs to the development of the Australian Regulatory Standards for GSM and IMT-2000 Customer Equipment as member of Communications Alliance working committees. John has also served as a vital source of technical information on 3GPP Standards and Regulatory Standards in other jurisdictions to ACMA and Emergency Services Organisations.
“In 3GPP, one of my significant achievements has been the on-time development of conformance test standards for LTE that allowed certification to be activated in December 2010. This in turn enabled the launch of LTE devices by leading Operators like Verizon, AT&T and NTT DoCoMo,” John explained.
He continues to serve technical-consultative roles at the Australian Regulatory Authorities and Industry Forums such as Communications Alliance and AMTA, as well as leadership roles in International Standards Development and Certification Organisations.
The electronics and communications engineer, who hails from the Indian state of Kerala, completed his Masters in Computing from UTS Sydney. Since his move to Australia, he has clocked over two decades of experience in the sophisticated area of systems design, development and testing.
Before joining Motorola’s Australia Software Centre in 1997, John has worked for the NSW State Government as Senior Engineer Special Projects in the Department of Gaming & Racing.
Speaking about his role in the rapidly changing industry that has witnessed dramatic overhauls in the past two decades, John believes he was “very fortunate to be part of the Motorola team responsible for the development of world’s first commercial GPRS phone in late 1990s”.
“I started in 3GPP contributing to the development of GPRS Standards (2G) in 1999. From 2001, I began actively contributing to the development of UMTS Standards and finally LTE since 2007. It has been exciting to see mobile data technology evolving from dial-up speed during GPRS times to today’s broadband speed through LTE. We are headed towards even higher data rates through aggregation of carriers as well as efficient use of spectrum,” he added.
At Motorola, John leads the Test Standards and Certification team, which is responsible for generation of new ideas, and introduction of these ideas into the industry standards, including development of conformance tests for certification. “Some part of the 3GPP test standards are applied as regulatory requirements in many jurisdictions including Australia,” he explained. The remaining is left up to the certification organisations like Global Certification Forum (GCF) and PCS Type Certification Review Board (PTCRB) to apply in certification.
Leveraging on his roots, John has also lobbied extensively with his Indian counterparts over the past decade.
“Many of the multinational companies are represented in 3GPP and GCF by Indian origin professionals and more and more Indian Telecom companies have started actively participating in 3GPP and GCF in the last few years. In fact, the next GCF meeting is being held at Delhi. One of the key objectives of this meeting is to promote GCF to the Indian mobile industry,” he revealed.
John is extremely upbeat about the future of this cutting edge industry. “Consumers can expect the mobile revolution to continue unabated with more and more features and applications packed into a converged device. In addition to the significant improvements in data rates, 3GPP is working in the areas of energy saving and support of diverse applications like Rich Communication Suite (RCSe) and WebRTC,” he stated.
Another area of strong activity in 3GPP is support of applications for ‘Machine-to-Machine (M2M) Communication’ service in mass markets. M2M products are utilized in the areas of transport, logistics, automobile, home automation, digital health and fitness, remote monitoring and control, and energy management, he pointed out.
Besides communications technology, Jacob John is equally passionate about badminton. Despite hectic demands on his time, the former state and nationals player continues to represent the game at Masters level, having won the NSW A Grade Men’s doubles with Yogen Bhatnagar.