Trends in Telecom: Communication Services, Automation, and Microwave

April 30, 2018

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Gresco Technology Solutions is your one-stop source for all your telecommunications needs. As we work to better serve our customers, we have noticed several trends in our market areas. Here are the top three trends that are shaping the future of telecom:

Communication Services

First, utilities are expanding their service offerings and stepping into communication services. These services include broadband and Internet and are commonly referred to as fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) or fiber-to-the-premise (FTTX). A good example of broadband would be a private, secure network bridging regional hospitals for telemedicine and medical records. Utilities can provide broadband by offering dark fiber leases or lit services. On the other hand, the Internet has become a colossal information-sharing network, and it has matured into a utility that is necessary for our economy and businesses.

Automation

The second trend in the power-utility world is automation. Distribution Automation, or DA, is deployed to increase efficiency and reduce outage areas. One of the main requirements for DA is low latency and resilient communications. Cellular/LTE leads the way with low-cost deployments, but can have several deficiencies. Our nation’s cellular network was not designed for low latency and has resiliency issues under high loads. The cellular latency makes this technology unusable for high-speed protection; however, cellular is still beneficial for status updates and event reporting.

Fiber optics are the holy grail in communications. Fiber is the only technology that is future proof. It has very little latency and has an endless capacity of throughput. Fiber optics can be managed like power-utility assets because of similar form factor and life span. Fiber optics are a technology that can be maintained and serviced internally allowing for predictable restoration. Fiber optic is the best choice for Distribution Automation with high-speed protection.

Microwave

Microwave and wireless technology continues to evolve. In the past, we could only serve Internet to 20 to 30 users with Wi-Fi from a single access point, a transmitter. The users on this access point shared the available bandwidth. The Wi-Fi standard today is 802.11ac with a throughput around 1.3 gigabits per second. The next Wi-Fi standard, 802.11AX, using multi-user multiple input and multiple output, will push throughput beyond ten gigabits per second. New access points with new standards and high-performance processors will allow more than 256 users to share bandwidth on a single transmitter or sector.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is also changing the rules with the introduction of Spectrum Access System, or SAS. This SAS system will expand usable spectrums. We will be monitoring this new system and reporting back to our customers as it develops. It could open new spectrums for use with Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) and service delivery.

Gresco Technology Solutions will continue to provide service and support trends that are beneficial to our industry. Our team of electrical engineers and telecom experts strives to be a resource for our valued customers, whether it’s consulting on the application of low-bandwidth SCADA radios or designing large deployments of fiber. We believe this team atmosphere provides superior project support, and we look forward to working with you on your next telecommunications project!