Editor's Picks

News, products and trends for the communications systems industry.

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WIRELESS INFRASTRUCTURE

CommScope launches extensive base station antenna portfolio for FirstNet

The first nationwide public-safety broadband network in the U.S. is moving closer to reality with all 50 states now opting into the proposed First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) deployment plan. In response, CommScope has launched a new, comprehensive family of state-of-the-art base station antennas that support the full range of FirstNet site configurations.

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The CommScope FirstNet antenna portfolio includes 4x multiple-input/multiple-output (MIMO) technology for low and high bands, in single and dual antenna configurations, with multiple port counts and antenna lengths.

“As a US-based company with global reach, and a leader in wireless network solutions, CommScope is proud to support FirstNet with antenna innovations and other next-generation offerings that will help protect our nation’s first responders,” says Farid Firouzbakht, senior vice president, RF products, CommScope. “Our FirstNet portfolio utilizes the advanced antenna technology essential for today’s LTE networks and which will help lay a foundation for the future.”

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Band 14 is the slice of licensed spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency band that will be used for FirstNet. CommScope’s FirstNet antenna portfolio includes several models that support Band 14. These antennas enable 4x MIMO capability, the advanced transmission technique that essentially creates four streams of wireless signals to greatly increase data rates, in the FirstNet band. CommScope’s FirstNet antennas support from 6 to 12 ports in 4-, 6- or 8-foot models.

CommScope also offers a broad portfolio of wireless network solutions that can support FirstNet, such as: fiber, coaxial and hybrid power cabling and connectivity solutions; microwave antenna systems; RF conditioning solutions like multiband combiners and tower mounted amplifiers; equipment enclosures; and other cell site solutions.

“CommScope has enabled wireless communications since the first generation of cellular—and even before in microwave, broadcast and satellite—and we continue to innovate with infrastructure solutions for the evolution to broadband public safety networks, Gigabit LTE and 5G,” concludes CommScope’s Firouzbakht.

NETWORK CABLE

Superior Essex LSHF cable achieves Living Product certification

Superior Essex recently announced it received the International Living Future Institute’s (ILFI) Living Product Challenge (LPC) certification—declaring it’s the first LPC certification ever awarded to a cable manufacturer. Superior Essex says the certification is “in keeping with its long-running commitments to sustainability and product transparency.

“Currently, Superior Essex is the only cable manufacturer, and one of just nine products total, to achieve this rigorous and industry-leading certification,” the company added.

The company’s Category 6+ Low Smoke Halogen Free (LSHF) achieved the Living Product certification, the company said. Superior Essex said with this certification, it can “contribute to our customers’ success in achieving Living Building Challenge (LBC) and WELL building standard projects, as it is the only certified Red List Free cable product on the market. In the near future, LPC certifications will be reviewed to contribute to LEED as well.”

The International WELL Building Institute is a public-benefit corporation that describes its mission as “to improve human health and well-being in buildings and communities across the world through its WELL Building Standard." The ILFI’s Red List “contains the worst in class materials prevalent in the building industry,” the institute says. “The commonly used chemicals on the Red List are polluting the environment, bio-accumulating up the food chain until they reach toxic concentrations, and harming construction and factory workers.”

The ILFI is a non-governmental organization that is “committed to catalyzing a global transformation toward true sustainability,” Superior Essex said when announcing the certification. “The Institute seeks partnerships with leaders in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors in pursuit of a future that is socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative.”

The ILFI explained, “The Living Product Challenge is an attempt to dramatically raise the bar from a paradigm where simply doing less harm is laudable, to one in which we seek to be restorative—giving more than we take.” Superior Essex characterized the Living Product Challenge certification as being “defined by some of the most advanced criteria for the creation of products. In essence, the standard proposes to make product design and production an opportunity to positively impact human and ecological communities worldwide.” The company added that Living Products are healthy and free of toxins; are manufactured in a socially responsible manner that is respectful of worker rights; are net positive and benefit both people and the environment.

Superior Essex’s vice president for applications engineering and quality, Eric Perry, commented, “We are proud of how sustainability has been integrated into our company’s core values. Achieving the rigorous Living Product Challenge certification is a display of how far we’ve come. With products that connect the world, we are focused on creating an overall net positive impact on the environment and humans. We look forward to supporting our customers’ needs to meet their green-building project goals by providing Red List Free cable to the building environment.”

STANDARDS

Multi-gigabit Ethernet chip specialist Aquantia wins “most respected company” award

Aquantia Corp., a specialist in high-speed, multi-gigabit Ethernet connectivity, announced it was recognized with the “Most Respected Private Semiconductor Company” award at the 2017 Global Semiconductor Alliance (GSA) awards dinner celebration, held on December 7, 2017.

“GSA proudly recognizes Aquantia as the Most Respected Private Semiconductor Company,” said Jodi Shelton, GSA president. “This award highlights Aquantia’s proven track record as a technology leader, with world class customer engagements and solid financial performance.”

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Per a press release, “The GSA Most Respected Private Semiconductor Company Award is designed to honor the private semiconductor company garnering the most respect from the industry in terms of its products, vision and future opportunity. In addition, the award recognizes leading semiconductor companies that have exhibited market growth through technological innovation and exceptional business management strategies.”

“Aquantia is honored to receive this prestigious award from our peers in the GSA,” said Faraj Aalaei, CEO at Aquantia Corp. (pictured). “2017 was a year of breakthroughs; we moved into new, high-growth markets and more importantly, made the transition from a private to a public company. This award recognizes Aquantia employees plus the dedication and skill it takes to get to this point. We look forward to bringing that same determination and ingenuity to all our future endeavors.”

INTERNET OF THINGS

Avnet intros software support for Microsoft Azure cloud architecture for secure, scalable IoT infrastructure

Global technology distributor Avnet recently unveiled its IoTConnect cloud-based software platform and a portfolio of smart, market-ready connectivity solutions built around the platform to help organizations jump-start development of IoT-enabled systems and services. Avnet showcased the IoTConnect platform and associated solutions at CES 2018.

The highly scalable IoTConnect platform utilizes Microsoft’s enterprise-grade Azure hybrid cloud computing service to enable the seamless distribution and analysis of data across cloud and on-premise systems. Azure’s security and connectivity protocols give IoTConnect users the flexibility to develop and deploy apps and solutions using their choice of tools, applications and frameworks, the company said.

Avnet further boasted that in collaboration with 14 suppliers across its IoT partner ecosystem, Avnet has also developed a broad selection of market-ready connectivity solutions that leverage the IoTConnect platform to tackle business challenges common to many industry verticals, including manufac turing, medical, environmental, construction, retail, food processing and smart cities.

Per the distributor, “These digital solutions – smart factory, smart asset monitoring, smart connected worker, smart building, smart healthcare, smart retail, smart office, smart fleet management and smart warehouse – can be deployed out of the box or tailored to meet segment-specific requirements. Avnet’s smart solutions combine advanced software capability with state-of-the-art silicon component technologies to transform real-time operational data into insightful information enabling more informed, strategic decision-making.”

DATA CENTERS

Formal commissioning event lauds utility-scale 179 MW solar power plant delivering 100 percent renewable energy to Switch data centers in Nevada

The Switch Station 1 and Switch Station 2 solar power plants, with a combined generation capacity of 179 Megawatts, were formally recognized in a commissioning event held in Apex, Nevada on December 11, 2017 as fully commissioned and in commercial operation. The celebration was attended by government officials, project owners and the energy offtaker.

U.S. Senator Harry Reid, U.S Bureau of Land Management Nevada Director John Ruhs, Clark County Commissioner Chairman Steve Sisolak, Nevada State Energy Office Director Angela Dykema and other federal, state and local leaders joined executives from Switch, EDF Renewable Energy, NV Energy, J.P. Morgan and First Solar, Inc. to ceremonially “throw the switch,” marking the delivery of solar power to Switch data centers in Las Vegas and Reno.

“Less than a decade ago, Nevada’s solar energy landscape was nonexistent, but this commissioning helps fulfill the vision I had to make our state the leader in renewable energy development,” said U.S. Senator Harry Reid. “A technology giant like Switch committing to using 100 percent renewable energy is truly visionary and grows our clean energy economy by creating hundreds of good-paying labor construction jobs here.”

Following an expedited permitting process, construction of the project took approximately 12 months, creating about 550,000 workhours, and had a total construction workforce of 1,300. Combined, the power plants cover about 1,797 acres and comprise 1,980,840 solar panels, the equivalent of 275 football fields, and 5,450,056 feet of cable, equaling 1,032 miles or the distance from Las Vegas to Seattle. The 179 MW of power generates enough clean solar energy to meet the consumption of 46,000 homes, displacing approximately 265,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) annually, equal to taking about 52,000 cars off the road.

DISTRIBUTORS

Allied Electronics changes name to Allied Electronics & Automation

Allied Electronics announced on January 2 that the company will begin operating under a new trade name and will be known as Allied Electronics & Automation, effective at that time. The company’s ownership and staff have not changed.

“Our new name better reflects our business as a premier distributor of electronics, and automation and control products,” said Allied’s president Steve Newland. “For some time, Allied has focused on meeting the demands of our core industrial automation customers. It is time for our name to match what our customers have come to expect from us.”

The company was founded in 1928 in Chicago, Illinois as Allied Radio, the distribution arm of Columbia Radio Corporation. The firm changed its name to Allied Electronics in 1961 to reflect its move into industrial sales. In 1970, the company moved to Fort Worth, Texas, after Tandy Radio purchased the company. In 1999, Electrocomponents of London, England, purchased Allied. Today, Allied Electronics & Automation and its sister company, RS Components, also based in London, England, represent the trading brands of Electrocomponents, plc, a global distributor for engineers.

MERGERS & ACQUISITIONS

Patton Electronics, FiberPlex merge businesses to focus on secure enterprise communications infrastructure

In October 2017, Patton Electronics, a US manufacturer of UC, cloud, and IoT-enabling solutions for carrier, enterprise and industrial networks, announced that it had executed a strategic transaction with FiberPlex Technologies, supplier of secure fiber-based digital communications to the US government and commercial markets. Patton has acquired certain assets and intellectual property rights of FiberPlex, and has begun consolidating FiberPlex operations in Patton’s Gaithersburg, MD facility.

The consolidation move creates a unified business, say the companies, growing Patton’s revenue and adding significant new resources, competencies and capabilities to the Patton group. New solutions from the company’s combined core technologies and product portfolios will enhance value to Patton and FiberPlex customers, channels and ecosystem partners, they added, further stating that FiberPlex customers will continue to receive stable, uninterrupted service and product supply, with all warranty and service agreements fully honored. FiberPlex channel partners will be credentialed into Patton’s channel program and given access to the full suite of complementary products. Patton channels will also gain access to FiberPlex products.

“The list of synergies is too long to enumerate,” commented Bobby Patton, CEO of Patton Electronics. “Our product lines complement each other beautifully and the combined manufacturing capabilities mean we can offer a new level of vertical integration to the worldwide market. The FiberPlex cutting-edge fiber technology know-how enhances our contribution to our newly combined customer base. The advanced metal works manufacturing operation of FiberPlex makes us even more vertically-integrated, boosts our rapid-prototyping capabilities and increases the velocity with which we can commercialize technology.”

FiberPlex says its product line “focuses on secure fiber-based digital communications solutions that protect against compromising emanations and feature physical security, intercept avoidance, and layer-zero cyber security.”

“We are excited about this new chapter for the FiberPlex brand,” added Buddy Oliver, CEO of FiberPlex.

WIRELESS INFRASTRUCTURE

AT&T, Verizon and Tillman Infrastructure announce collaboration to build hundreds of cell towers

In late 2017, AT&T, Verizon and Tillman Infrastructure announced that the companies have entered into a joint agreement to build hundreds of cell towers, with the potential for significantly more new site locations in the future. Tillman, owner and operator of towers, small cells and smart cities infrastructure, has agreed to construct these towers to-suit with AT&T and Verizon, which have committed to leasing and co-anchoring the co-located towers.

Per a press release issued by the companies, “These new structures will add to the overall communications infrastructure in the U.S., and will fulfill the need for new locations where towers do not exist today. They also will serve as opportunities for the carriers to relocate equipment from current towers.”

“We continue to focus on technology innovation and investing in the latest software platforms to provide the best possible customer experience on our network,” said Nicola Palmer, chief network officer for Verizon Wireless.

“At the same time, it is imperative to reduce operating costs. We are reviewing all of our long-term contracts as they come up for renewal and we are excited to develop new vendor partners to diversify our infrastructure providers.”

“We need more alternatives to the traditional tower leasing model with the large incumbents. It’s not cost-effective or sustainable. We’re creating a diverse community of suppliers and tower companies who will help increase market competition while reducing our overhead,” said Susan Johnson, senior vice president of global supply chain, AT&T. “We look forward to working with Verizon as we establish site locations and sign new lease agreements with additional suppliers in the coming years.”

“Tillman is excited about the opportunity to work with AT&T and Verizon in order to further develop the cell tower model of the future,” said Suruchi Ahuja, chief financial officer of Tillman Infrastructure.

“Over the past year we have built a strong team at Tillman and are committed to rapidly building a leader in wireless infrastructure in the U.S. in order to best serve carriers and the broader communities in which we will enable connectivity.”

Construction plans on the first towers began in the first quarter of 2018.

As sites are completed, network engineers will begin installing equipment and turning the sites up quickly.

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