Smart cities and Tech Evolution - IX Communications Infrastructures

Mumbai, India, is laying out a meshed wireless infrastructure to connect smart meters, light poles and distribution automation equipment. Credit: Connode

Moore’s Law has had a tremendous impact on electronic communications and, indirectly, on social communications. It has, also, been fueled by the telecommunication market that has provided in the last 35 years the “volumes” that have pushed the semiconductor industry to massively invest in research and manufacturing de facto making Moore’s prediction true. The demand for chips came first from the network (digitalisation of transmission, stored program control switches, fibre in the backbones, digitalisation of the last mile -ADSL, VDSL- fibre in the last mile, in this order) and then in the last 20 years from cell phones. Now this demand is fading away from the network side but it is still strong in the smart phones side.

The Moore’s Law has changed the (tele)communications landscape first by making voice digitalisation possible (and affordable), then by increasing the backbone capacity and, later, the distribution network capacity, increasing the switching capacity at the same time. Finally, by making data hungry terminals (cell phones, smart phones, digital televisions, IoT, tablets).

HIgher capacity pushed towards better transmission media (like optical fibres) but also towards the capability to make the most out of two old time resources: copper and air (radio spectrum). Moore’s Law has affected them all.

The evolution has not reached the end of the line. We can expect an increase in overall capacity with no end in sight for at least the next decade. In this process, however, the economic value has shifted, as well as the rules of the game, first as de-facto and then as regulation. And more is to come.

Whereas the telecommuncations infrastructure in its first 150 years was Telecom Operators’ biz more and more we see:

  • telecommunication infrastructures locally deployed by third parties (private and public) to provide access points, and
  • alternative infrastructures, like rail, city illumination, public transport, water distribution and waste becoming a spring board to carry telecommunications content.

Both of these trends are pushing towards public private partnership and towards an infrastructure resulting from the clustering of several local infrastructures. Municipalities can become players in the infrastructure arena through regulations steering the deployment and use of infrastructures and through direct participation in their development.

This is also made possible by the dramatic decrease in cost of infrastructure creation/deployment (particularly in the case of wireless infrastructures).

Author - Roberto Saracco

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