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Making Communications “Better, Faster, Cheaper, and More Reliable”

Sachin Agarwal (PhD ’05)

Sachin Agarwal (PhD ’05)
Sachin Agarwal (PhD ’05)

Deutsche Telekom, home of T-Mobile, is one of the largest telecommunications companies in Europe. As one of its senior researchers, Sachin Agarwal (PhD ’05) needs to stay on top of the trends.

“Product cycles have become incredibly short in the communication services world,” said Agarwal. “The challenge is in adapting business models to the rapid advances in technology and user expectations.”

Agarwal, who specializes in wireless communication, is responsible for creating new products and services.

“I like how fast-paced my research is,” he said. “The telecommunications sector is evolving and growing at an incredible speed and sustaining this requires clever algorithms, efficient protocols, cost-effective solutions, and easy-to-use product design.”

In the last decade, a new communications medium – whether it’s e-mail, instant messaging, Skype, Twitter, or Facebook – has debuted each year, forcing mobile networks to adapt. But Agarwal likes the challenge.

“You can always make things better, faster, cheaper, and more reliable when the scales are so large,” he said.

Agarwal started working at Deutsche Telekom right out of Boston University after choosing among a number of offers. ECE professor, Ari Tractenberg, said that he wasn’t surprised to see his former student head to Germany.

“He was very creative – very easy-going and diligent – and this seemed like a good fit for him,” said Trachtenberg.

Agarwal, who lived in India when he applied to BU, didn’t visit the university before deciding to attend but said that Trachtenberg’s offer to conduct mobile device synchronization research with him was too good to pass up. Trachtenberg would later become his dissertation advisor and ECE Professor David Starobinski also became very active in Agarwal’s research.

“I was impressed by many of the faculty,” said Agarwal. “A nice thing was that professors were conducting courses dealing with contemporary research and industry topics instead of offering fundamental courses only.”

Today, he remains appreciative of his time at BU, even establishing a collaboration between the university and Deutsche Telekom so that an ECE student can have an opportunity to work with Agarwal through a research assistantship during the summer.

“I realized that being in the ECE department was the best investment of my time in my early 20s,” said Agarwal. “Because I tooled myself up then, I am better at what I do now.”

Rachel Harrington (
October 2010