The telecommunications industry is experiencing a worldwide explosion of growth as few other industries ever have. However, as recently as a decade ago, the bulk of telecommunications services were delivered by the traditional telephone network, for which design and analysis principles had been under steady development for over three quarters of a century. This environment was characterized by moderate and steady growth, with an accompanying slower development of new network equipment and standardization processes. In such a near static environment, attention was given to optimization techniques to squeeze out better profits from existing and limited future investments. To this end, forecasts of network services were developed on a regular planning cycle and networks were optimized accordingly, layer by layer, for cost effective placement of capacity and efficient utilization. In particular, optimization was based on a fairly stable set of assumptions about the network architecture, equipment models, and forecast uncertainty. This special edition is devoted to heuristic approaches for telecommunications network management, planning, and expansion. We hope that this collection brings to the attention of researchers and practitioners an array of techniques and case studies that meet the stringent time to market' requirements of this industry and which deserve exposure to a wider audience. Telecommunications will face a tremendous challenge in the coming years to be able to design, build, and manage networks in such a rapidly evolving industry. Development and application of heuristic methods will be fundamental in our ability to meet this challenge.