The Communications Conundrum

Reported by Cliff Keys, Editorial Director, Editor-in-Chief, Power Systems Design Magazine


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It is just incomprehensible to imagine the way we live and work today without the richness and connectivity that modern communications systems provide. We can be connected by our cell phones, tablet PCs, computers and even our home entertainment systems as never before. Communications systems need to provide a wealth of features and dependable bandwidth, all of which require sophisticated power management for base, remote or portable operation. Powering these feature-and-connectivity-rich devices with increasing demand on power, and importantly, its management has become a critical issue. Manufacturers want to differentiate and provide their customers with a wide variety of applications and yet the power unit, normally a battery, has a very limited capacity. Battery technology is not moving as fast as we would like and therefore engineers must be frugal in their designs. Global subscribers to wideband telco services such as Fiber To The Home (FTTH) and VDSL are expected to rise at more than triple the rate of ADSL during the next few years as carriers seek to boost their networks' performance, according to iSuppli Corp. The telco broadband market is undergoing a seismic shift in technology as technologies like ADSL begin to give way to wideband services like FTTH and VDSL. While ADSL will continue to dominate most telcos' broadband installed bases for years to come, subscribership has begun to contract in many developed countries such as the United States, Japan, Korea, Canada and Germany. Rising competition from other industries is compelling the telcos to turn to wideband technology. Telcos around the world are facing stiff competition from competitive access suppliers, cable providers and wireless operators. This competitive pressure, which has resulted in stagnating revenues and subscribers eroding by as much as 10% per year, has caused telephone companies to rethink how they do business in the residential space. Virtually all carriers, as well as competitive access suppliers, have chosen a strategy of deploying value-added services, such as IPTV, in combination with their core residential business of voice and data in order to stop subscriber erosion and to increase subscriber Average Revenue Per User (ARPU). Among bandwidth-intensive applications, IPTV is one of the few that has proven to be successful with subscribers. However, telcos plan to offer other services to boost revenue during the next few years, including 3-D HDTV, cloud-based Digital Video Recording (DVR), distance learning, video telephony, home automation and remote home networking management. All the best, Cliff Editorial Director & Editor-in-Chief, Power Systems Design