On February 21 2021, Bablu Kazi held his phone to my face and shared how it had more powerful processing power than the computers NASA used to send Apollo 11 to the moon. It was a strong example of the changes in telecommunications that set the pace for a really interesting conversation.
Bablu Kazi is a Senior Electrical Engineer with Morrison Hershfield, a consulting engineering firm that designs cutting-edge telecommunication facilities. In an ASCO Power Innovation Talk Webinar, Bablu and I discussed the advancements and challenges of electrical infrastructure in the telecommunications industry. This post summarizes our conversation, which covered:
- COVID-19 and its impact
- Telecommunications facility design and strategies
- Emerging sustainability issues
- Telecommunications and the Internet of Things
COVID-19 and its impact
The telecommunications industry is consistently improving to meet the exponential increase in demand for its services. Even before the industry took up the challenge to make remote work possible during a global pandemic, it’s been evolving continuously. Its rise from the voice-only capabilities of 1G to the low-latency and IoT capabilities of 5G is an example of that.
Its continuous evolution can also be seen in how we evolved from relying on landlines to centralizing different functions such as healthcare, bill payment, remote work, and other activities using smartphones. This handheld device has pushed landlines to become obsolete. This could not have been possible without the telco infrastructure that provided the cellular technologies to support it. Now, less than 40% of adults in the U.S. live in households with a landline, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—further proving that wireless technology is the future.
With its continuous pursuit to innovate and over-design infrastructures to respond to increasing demand, the telecommunications industry was able to supply the data capabilities demanded by consumers to adapt to the pandemic.
Telco Facility Design and Strategies
According to a 2018 Global System for Mobile Communications Association study, nearly half of mobile connections in the US will run on 5G. Telecommunication companies are focused on upgrading their infrastructure to ensure a successful rollout. This new generation has to be complemented by local processing or Edge Data Centers located nearest to point-of-use devices.
Telecommunication companies are integrating Edge Data Centers into their networks to reduce latency and provide computing and storage resources. This will broaden the application of self-driving cars and other technological advancements. But the technologies required by 5G platforms need more power, cooling, and other requirements that we can expect to see in the future.
Electrical resiliency is also a core focus because telecommunication companies compete on service availability. In addition, downtimes easily lead to bad public relations. Kazi shared that the telecommunications industry will benefit from switching from DC power to AC power, which can provide more power in a significantly smaller footprint.
Other power generation means will also be a part of the solution. Telecommunication facilities are finding ways to reduce outages by integrating critical power equipment such as Uninterruptible Power Supplies, generators, and generator transfer switches into their power systems. This enables facilities to reduce outages by coming up with new takes on infrastructure design.
5G is the primary focus of telecommunication companies, but they are not dropping the ball on sustainability. Facilities are looking for other renewables such as power from hydroelectric and wind sources. This transition to sustainable sources provides a huge amount of energy for their facilities and simultaneously cuts operational costs.
Solar is a renewable source with growing popularity in this field. Rooftops offer a great place to set up solar panels, which can provide up to 25% of a facility’s power requirements. This setup is easy to deploy without acquiring additional real estate.
Internet of Things
When it comes to systematic communication, the telecommunications industry has not incorporated smart grid setups. Instead, facilities have automated their systems to enable remote monitoring and control.
Telco companies are adopting Electrical Power Monitoring Systems (EPMS) as they deploy edge data centers. This move is an effect of the media and telco industry converging as they revolutionize media entertainment solutions that call for 5G networks and increased data transfer speeds.
Real-time data acquired from these digital systems will improve energy efficiency and the reaction time of facilities. It also provides value for long-term decisions that will allow firms to better plan for the future and identify room for growth.
“What are we going to do? How are we going to survive?” Kazi shares that this is how his six-year-old daughters talk when they can’t access the Internet. It paints a humorous message that holds a grain of truth. The internet is an essential asset in every domain, be it mission-critical applications or the daily life of children.
My conversation with Bablu Kazi examined advancements and challenges in the telecommunications industry. It reveals how we can keep improving this system and provide the critical power systems that will continue to be necessary.
Find additional information about backup power solutions on the ASCO Power Technologies website. It offers a library of resources including White Papers, Technical Briefs, Application Notes, and Case Studies.