Market trends and innovations in optical communications

T&M players need to evolve to take care of high bandwidth measurements, multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) testing and perform special tests on LTE-Advanced technology

Ravi Shankar Rai, Managing Director, Savitri Group

Recent development in telecom sector say cut throat competition among telecom operators has resulted in unreasonable expectations of the customer of getting services on negligible price is playing spoilsport. Operators are now vying to put cheaper handsets in the hand of mobile users to retain or increase their customer base. This trend is dangerous and may take such a turn that few operators will have to close shop.

Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest has set in and telecom market players are struggling to innovate to survive. This is quite natural that input cost reduction has become very important for all market players.

In this context, Test and Measuring (T&M) instruments play a measured role in the maintenance of telecom networks. Manufacturer of T&M instruments are sensitive to requirements of the Indian telecom operators as also the Indian telecom market where demand of cost effective products are increasing to cut the operation cost. T&M players have been striving to reduce the cost without compromising with test capabilities.

As the length of the network increases, maintenance of the network has become very important. At the same time replacement of the aging network will also take place. The growing demand for bandwidth, multiple devices and increasingly complex network architecture will continue fuelling growth in the T&M market. This will keep the requirement of T&M instruments ever increasing and manufacturers of T&M instruments will see the silver lining as they are expecting to increase the volume of sale.

At the same time, T&M instruments as well as players have to technologically evolve to take care of high bandwidth measurements, multiple-input multiple-output (MIMO) testing and special tests on LTE-Advanced technology. There is also protocol testing and wide area network (WAN) optimization testing. In addition, quality tests that are required by the operator before accepting systems supplied by the manufacturer are being developed. Challenges for T&M Instruments is to evolve technologically to provide all the features and at the same time keep the price in check. Other challenge for the manufacturers which keep them on their toes is to avoid obsolescence of their product due to fast evolving technologies. This is the reason manufacturers are increasingly adopting a software-defined approach towards instrumentation, which allows expeditious up gradation of solutions as per changing network and technology requirements. Simplification of the product is also required with rapid change in technology as it is difficult to update the technical skill of the user as this also become a cost driving factor for the operator.

Growth opportunities for T&M Instruments is visible due to the rapid evolution towards higher frequencies and wider modulation bandwidth, coupled with the advent of technologies such as 5G. 5G has the potential to revolutionize many industries such as telecommunications, automotive, energy, healthcare and more. The technology is expected to be several times faster than 4G and would provide a backdrop for the billions of devices to be connected to the internet as it would boost M2M communication and the internet of things (IoT) market eventually leading to growth of T&M market.

There is no concrete trend prevalent in the fiber optic communication technology though the focus seems to be on the main area network (MAN) technologies covering the wavelengths of up to 1650 nm. The underlying data traffic continues to grow at an overwhelming pace despite the unavailability of a homogenous traffic distribution model. This results in geographically converging dense traffic patterns. This phenomenon is further intensifying as the wireless LAN and public hotspot platforms increase in numbers. Due to the current economical climate, applications are still convergent on 10 Gbps nodes.

Uses of communication network has covered almost all aspect of life be it business, education, medical, home care, arts, entertainment, domestic and retail markets, government, machine to machine (M2M) communication and scientific research. This necessitates convergence of multiple independent networks with resilience, reliability and ease of use.

Author: Ravi Shankar Rai, Managing Director, Savitri Group


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