Published Works      


Ray Horak most recently authored Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook, published by Wiley-Interscience (ISBN-10: 0470396075, ISBN-13: 978-0470396070) in 2007, and Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary (ISBN-10: 047177457X, ISBN-13: 978-0471774570), also in 2007. These critically acclaimed books are available at major brick and mortar bookstores, worldwide, as well as at through a number of online booksellers, including the following:



Barnes and Noble

Digital Guru


Barnes and Noble

Digital Guru

These most recent works have received a great deal of critical acclaim.

Book Reviews for: Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook

Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook…covers the entire telecom landscape, from wireline to wireless, from copper to radio and fiber, from electrical to optical, and from the customer premises to the cloud. It discusses voice, data, fax, video and multimedia technologies, systems, and ap­plications in great detail, and in the LAN, MAN, and WAN domains. The handbook explores every relevant technology, standard, and ap­plication in the telecom and datacom space….It is exceptionally well-written in Horak’s plain-English, commonsense style, making it just as helpful to the neophyte and layperson as to the serious student or seasoned IT professional. Horak makes liberal use of well-constructed graphics to illustrate system and network architectures, topologies, and applications. 

It is hard to make a valid direct comparison to this book. The Irwin Handbook of Telecommunications, by James Harry Green, is good, but less complete, less technical, and drier, if such a combination is possible. The Voice & Data Communications Handbook, by Regis “Bud” Bates, is written at a lower level; and, the Essential Guide to Telecommunications, by Annabel Dodd, at a much lower level. These latter two books are breezy reads and appeal more to a mass market than to a serious student or professional. The Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook compares more correctly to some of the more seminal works of Gilbert Held or James Martin, but covers a much wider range of subject matter and is a much easier and more pleasant read. 

The Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook is written for the academic and professional community, but is just as relevant to anyone who needs to understand telecommunications system and network technologies and their meaningful applications. It is an exceptional work that should be on every IT professional’s bookshelf…when not in his or her hands.

“…a thoroughly researched and comprehensive survey of telecom and datacom technologies and services<<

ASCDI News October 13, 2008

There is finally a guide to telecommunications and data communications that non-engineers can understand. Popular author Ray Horak provides comprehensive, up-to-date information in plain English, instead of confusing technotalk….Complete with a discussion of the current regulatory and business environments, including divestiture and revestiture as well as mergers and acquisitions, this is the ideal reference for non-engineering professionals in the end-user, carrier, content or service provider, manufacturing, regulatory, or financial communities.

IEEE Communications Society

ComSoc/Wiley Book of the Month, August 2008

We recently received a copy from Ray Horak of his “Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook.” This (literally) weighty tome contains almost 800 pages of current technology, and, maybe more importantly, the historical basis for how we got to where we are today. From frequency division multiplexing to the invention of the Strowger switch by a disgruntled undertaker to the origin of wire “gauge,” the book is a great trip down memory lane for us old-timers and a necessary piece of technology background for neophytes.  

However, the book isn’t just history. It’s more of an encyclopedia that includes current topics as of the publication date in 2007. As such, is serves as a great foundation for topics like application delivery and virtualization. 

As we move forward with new ideas, this historical context is mandatory to making sure that the mistakes of the past aren’t repeated. And this book is a great resource for providing that context.

Steve Taylor, Columnist, Network World

The Handbook is the sort of thing one either has to, or should, read at the beginning of a career in communications. That applies to just about any segment: wireless or wired telecom company, cable TV, satellite or data communications…. The Handbook reminds me of the James Martin books I once pored over. More than once, I’d add.

Gary Kim, founder and CEO Dagda Mor Media and Contributing Editor,, (July 14, 2008)

I recently had the pleasure of reviewing Ray Horak’s…Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook. The book’s 791 pages, divided into 15 chapters, cover everything from legacy technology such as basic telephone switching to leading edge technologies such as DWDM optical networks, 3G wireless networks, and IPTV converged video. I have read other Horak books in the past, but this one is the most comprehensive one that he has done to date.

You would be hard pressed to find a topic that was not discussed in the almost 800 pages of the book…. Overall, I found the book to be a well written wealth of knowledge. I plan to use it as the text for my undergraduate course in telecommunications in the spring.

Walt Magnussen, Director of Telecommunications, Texas A&M University; ACUTA: Journal of Communications Technology in Higher Education, Summer 2008)

It has not been easy keeping pace with the rate of development in telecommunications and data communications; a book that presents a comprehensive overview of the wide range of communications systems and networks is most welcome. This book discusses the various aspects of issues in telecommunications and data communications, describing the terminology involved, and visiting their histories when appropriate. It is organized into 15 chapters, preceded by a preface explaining the author’s intent, an elaborate acknowledgment, and a concise biography of the author. Two appendices and an exhaustive index complete the book. The book is very well written and accessible to the average reader. Although some of these ideas can be found in other books, this one presents all the current information on telecommunications and data communications. 

William Oblitey, Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Computing Reviews, May 6, 2008

Readers wanting to gain insight into the terminology of the field would be advised to consult this outstanding reference book. 

American Reference Books Annual, March 2008 

A must-have acquisition for both beginners and practioners…highly recommended. 

Choice, February 2008 

Although the book is written for reasonably astute engineers, analysts, regulators, attorneys and other telecom professionals, Horak develops each topic in a common sense and patient manner so it is informative and useful to a student or relative newcomer to telecom.

Mark Simon, President, Evince Media; Telecom Reseller, May/June 2008 

This book is the top center of my telecom book shelf. Although I have only had it for a few months, some wear is already beginning to show because of overuse. It is organized simply and logically into 15 chapters, from the fundamentals to regulation. There are diagrams and illustrations as necessary, but not enough to make it look like a comic book.

Most technology books fall into one of two categories – inane or arcane. Horak’s book is written in clear English, understandable by the unwashed masses, but covers highly technical concepts without glossing over the necessary details. Best of all, even though Horak is a Bell veteran, the book is acronym friendly. (Bell heads have a tendency to cling to acronyms, even converting them to verbs on occasion.) Horak uses acronyms, to be sure, not gratuitously; they are an essential part of the telecom scene.

If you can only have one book on voice and data communications, this is the book to have.

Gene Retske, Senior Vice President/Editor, The Prepaid Press, May 15, 2008

…an exhaustive survey of communications technologies supposedly for non-engineers. I write “supposedly” because the book frequently gets technical. Its value to engineers and management is as a starting point, and the topics covered include everything from CATV and fax through to VoIP, WiMAX and ZigBee…every corporate IT library should have copies. Highly recommended.

Mark Gibbs, Network World, May 5, 2008

InfoWorld, April 30, 2008 

While Telecommunications and Data Communications Handbook may not be a book that will appeal to everyone, everyone in the telecommunications industry should read it. It provides a concise guide to the telecommunications industry and is written in a way that even non-technical types can understand.


If you have had to try to understand how Broadband network services work, or Frame Relays, or even mobile communications, then Telecommunications And Data Communications Handbook is the book for you. If you work in the telecommunications industry, then you need this book….

T. Michael Testi, BC Books, October 31, 2007

Book Reviews for: Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary

Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary is an excellent piece of work. A handful of other telecom dictionaries and encyclopedias are cur­rently in print, by far the most popular of which is Newton’s Telecom Dictionary. Because Newton’s dominates the market and has done so for many years, any telecom dictionary or encyclopedia is inevitably compared to that work. Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary is no exception, particularly because Ray Horak was the contributing editor to Newton’s from the 12th through the 22nd editions. 

Although Webster’s defines only 4,600 terms in comparison to Newton’s highly dubious claim of some 24,500 terms, Webster’s definitions are much better researched, much more precise, and much more efficiently worded (that is, there is much less “fluff”). Even if Webster’s almost certainly will gain in bulk as future editions expand the coverage of the telecom domain, it contains all of the es­sential telecom and IT terms, and defines them clearly and concisely. Webster’s includes many humorous definitions but, unlike Newton’s, they are all relevant and meaningful. Newton’s, on the other hand, is so full of personal observations and anecdotes, irrelevant humor (?), and inaccurate definitions as to make you wonder why bother to make the comparison at all. 

Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary is an excellent piece of work. Ray Horak and his technical editor, Bill Flanagan, have col­laborated to create a well-written, authoritative work that clearly sets a new standard for telecom dictionaries. I highly recommend it to anyone serious about telecom. 

John R. Vacca, The Internet Protocol Journal (Cisco Systems), December 2008, pp. 36-38


Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary… is thoroughly researched, highly objective, absolutely accurate…. The book clearly is the most authoritative contemporary telecom dictionary.

NATD World (October 27, 2008)

ASCDI Now (October 27, 2008)

It’s not often that you find a dictionary that worth reading just for the heck of it, but we now have one for telecom. My old friend Ray Horak has published just such a piece in the Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary, and it is a must read for seasoned pros and novices alike. With the help of panel of advisor that includes Bill Flanagan as Technical Editor, Ray has put together an absolutely astounding body of information that will help anyone to better navigate the trick waters of telecom.

Calling this book a “Dictionary” is somewhat misleading. The terms are arranged in alphabetical order, and the definitions are certainly spot on, but there’s a lot more here than a set of sterile definitions. Ray gives you not only the definition, but the context. Some of these definitions run for a couple of pages, and provide a clear and objective description of the area that includes the market framework as well as the technical content. As a reference, it is unparalleled including tables for every conceivable set of standards from modems to cables and to anything that the ITU has every identified with a “letter-dot-number” combination.

What real telecom pros will appreciate is the depth of the research and the history that Ray has managed to capture. While “dictionaries” relegate proper names to the back, Ray has included the luminaries in our field from Bell to Metcalfe and Nyquist. For those of us who have been around the field for a while, a casual read will bring back countless memories of technologies long past along with the vocabulary we once used to describe them.

For anyone who has to work in our field, and particularly for those who must describe it to others, I highly recommend Ray Horak’s Telecom Dictionary. It is over 500-pages of thoroughly researched, densely packed, and wonderfully entertaining information for anyone who works in the telecom field.

Jim Burton, UC Strategies, July 21, 8008

Many folks who entered the telecom trade during the 1980s and the go-go years of the 1990s came to rely on Newton’s Telecom Dictionary, from long-time BCR columnist Harry Newton, as their guide to the wild and wooly world of telecom.

Unfortunately, those of us in the trade didn’t think very highly of Harry’s contribution. While it did not lack for wit, Newton’s Dictionary was woefully short on quality information. In fact, one of the ways the veterans identified the rookies was by the latter’s dependence on what we looked at as a rather lame source.

For those who are entering the field today (and even for those who have been around for a while) there is a new dictionary that is worth the investment. Ray Horak, President of The Context Corporation, has written the Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary, and it’s a gem. It’s 559 pages of well-written, insightful information on everything from “A” (for Ampere) to “Zero-Water Peak Fiber.”

Mr. Horak’s book is thoroughly researched, and contains an unfathomable wealth of detail. I have taught data networking for over 25-years and pride myself on precision—this book is precise. Where you might think you know the definition of that term, here you’ll find that definition expressed with absolute precision and find three other definitions you weren’t even aware of.

For people who need to “know what the words mean” this is an excellent resource. However, for those of us who thrive on telecom trivia, this is truly a delight. Whatever term you look up, you will inevitably be drawn to some other definition on the same page that is pure trivia. In the past few weeks I’ve learned everything from the name of the first telephone operator to the altitude of the ionosphere…. You start by looking up a few random terms, and before you know it, you’re sucked into a delightful journey of discovery.

Michael Finneran, dBRN Associates; No Jitter, May 29, 2008

Books about telecom subjects generally fall into one of two categories: Very Basic or Incomprehensible. For the vast majority of us that fall between these two extremes, there is a new dictionary of telecom terms that is neither too technical, nor condescending.

The standard text, and one of the most widely read books in telecom, has been Newton’s Telecom Dictionary, now in its 23rd edition. But, the man who edited Newton’s for much of its history, has now published his own version of a telecom dictionary. Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary (Wiley, 2008, ISBN 978-0-471-77457-0) is written by Ray Horak.

It is a far different book than Newton’s. Horak has resisted the urge to entertain, so this book reads like a serious work, and has all new definitions. Webster’s is focused more on the technology, and defines over 4,600 terms and acronyms used in telecom in its 568 pages. Horak provides charts, diagrams and drawings to accompany his definitions where necessary. The definitions are clear, concise and well written. There is no editorializing, just usable definitions.

Horak has done an admirable job, and created a work that can be used where Newton’s can cause problems. For example, in the expert witness work I sometimes perform, Newton’s funny or flippant definitions can be used to impugn the credibility of the source itself. You will not have this problem with Webster’s; it is a work that will never cause you a red face if you use it in a hostile environment.

Gene Retske, Senior Vice President/Editor, The Prepaid Press, May 15, 2008

Although the book is a technical dictionary, Horak’s plain-English, commonsense style yields definitions that are as thoroughly understandable to the business professional or student as they are to the electrical engineer. It is thoroughly researched, objective, accurate and includes just about every essential term, abbreviation, acronym, contraction, initialism and portmanteau you might encounter in the telecom and datacom domains…. These and other nuggets will put a smile on your face, but not to the point that they detract from the serious subject hand. This is one of the many points that distinguish Webster’s from Newton’s Telecom Dictionary, which has long been considered by many as a staple. Horak was the Contributing Editor for Newton’s for more than 10 years, but severed that relationship in favor of writing what he considers to be a much more serious and authoritative reference work.

Mark Simon, President, Evince Media; Telecom Reseller, April/May 2008 

What’s remarkable about this work is it defines over 4,600 telecom terms and, scanning through it, it appears there are more TLAs (three-letter acronyms) involved than the mind can comfortably encompass. I’ve found the dictionary incredibly useful when researching, and every now and then I find an interesting snippet of trivia (did you know Bob Metcalfe’s middle name is “Melancton”?)….every corporate IT library should have copies. Highly recommended.

            Mark Gibbs, Network World, May 5, 2008

InfoWorld, April 30, 2008

I found a lot to like about Webster's New World Telecom Dictionary. First, it is indeed very easy to read, and contains a lot of detail, as well as good cross referencing in the entries where needed. Second, it provides good illustrations and diagrams that get the point across. Finally, while touted as a dictionary, it feels more like an encyclopedia in that it does not have that dry dictionary form—but rather a more inviting feel that makes you want to come explore. Whether you are a telecom or IT professional, do yourself a favor and get Webster's New World Telecom Dictionary as it is highly recommended.

T. Michael Testi, BC Books, October 31, 2007


Mr. Horak has written a number of white papers and case studies for various clients and well over 100 articles for major industry publications, including:

  • Communications Convergence
  • Computer Telephony
  • Computing Channels
  • Datapro Communications Analyst
  • Datapro Managing Global Communications
  • Datapro Worldwide IT Analyst
  • Journal of Telecommunications in Higher Education
  • Network World
  • The Prepaid Press
  • Procomm
  • Telecom Reseller
  • Telecommunications Insider
  • Telecommunications Reseller Opportunities
  • Teleconnect
  • Voice Processing Magazine

         Mr. Horak also is, or has been, a member of the Editorial Boards of The Connectivity Management Handbook, The Journal of Telecommunications in Higher Education, Telecom Business, and TELECONNECT Magazine. He was Senior Contributing Editor for the best-selling Newton's Telecom Dictionary (12th through 22nd Editions) until he resigned that position to write Webster’s New World Telecom Dictionary. . He currently is Technology Editor for Telecom Reseller newspaper.

         He also was a popular featured columnist for Commweb, the master portal for CMP Media. His semimonthly In the Classroom column ran for several years.
Ray Horak also authored the best-selling Communications Systems & Networks, published by Wiley Publishing (ISBN 0-7645-4899-9), and now in its third edition (2002). In addition to the English language edition, the book has been published in Chinese, French, Indian and Italian. Communications Systems and Networks has been used as a textbook by a number of colleges and universities, including The American University in Paris, Barry University, Carnegie Mellon University (Graduate School of Industrial Administration), Golden Gate University, Honolulu Community College, Lamar University, Michigan State University, Northwestern University, Ohio University, Oklahoma Baptist University, Ryerson University, Texas A&M University, The University of California at Irvine, The University of Minnesota, the University of Ottawa (Canada), The University of Redlands, The University of Technology (Sydney, Australia), The University of Texas at Dallas, and Yanbian University of Science & Technology (Yanji City, PRC). The Electronics Technicians Association (ETA) recommends the book in its Certified Network Computer Technician (CNCT) and Certified Network Systems Technician (CNST) courses of study.