Vecta Labs North America welcomes Interference Specialist, Liam O’Neill to the team
Today is a special day at Vecta Labs, as we welcome Interference Specialist, Liam O’Neill to the Vecta Labs team in North America.
With over three decades of telecoms experience, including more than 20 years specializing in interference troubleshooting, Liam brings a wealth of experience and industry experience to the team, including interests and knowledge of the role AI might play in telecommunications.
Introducing Liam to the team, we thought what better way than to ask him a few questions about his career, his interests and himself – check out our interview below:
1. In 100 words or less, are you able to summarize what an Interference Specialist does?
External radio interference degrades wireless network performance. This can range from a slowdown in data throughput to complete blockage of communications, depending on the level of interference. An Interference Specialist uses various tools and techniques to identify the cause of the interference, track it to its source and get the issue mitigated. In most cases, the owners of interfering devices are cooperative and fix the issue but sometimes I have to involve the enforcement bureau of the Federal Communications Commission to get the issue resolved. I also work on situations where the wireless network may be causing radio interference to other networks.
2. What have been some of the most interesting / unique forms of external interference you’ve come across in your career?
Over the years I have tracked radio interference to all kinds of electronic devices, from cell phone jammers, defective wi-fi routers, cell boosters, security cameras, traffic light sensors and even a Bluetooth adapter in a car. Harmonics from nearby FM broadcast transmitters are sometimes a problem. External Passive Intermodulation (PIMs) are often a cause of interference close to the base station antennas.
3. You have an interest in AI and its role in the telecommunications industry – what are some of the key opportunities that AI might play when it comes to interference and telecommunications?
Becoming proficient at identifying and tracking radio interference takes years of experience. AI provides an opportunity to automatically analyze interference situations using data from the wireless network cells and provide guidance to engineers as they embark on their search. In the field, it can help distinguish between the interfering signal and real traffic on the network. It can expedite the tracking of the interference to its source. AI can help less experienced Engineers to become proficient at interference troubleshooting much faster.
4. How did you become an Interference Specialist?
I started my career in Telecom when I moved to the USA from Ireland in 1989, first working on two-way radio systems, then Paging Networks and Cellular Systems. I have worked for Motorola, PageNet, Nextel, Sprint, Ericsson, and T-Mobile. I have specialized in interference troubleshooting for almost 20 years.
5. Outside of work, what are a few interesting titbits about you?
I am married with two adult children. I am an avid walker and I play traditional Irish music on Uilleann Pipes. I enjoy travel which is part of the reason that I like being an Interference Specialist. It takes me to new and interesting places.