Imagine a world where specialist doctors could perform surgeries remotely, with the use of robots and real time data transmitted and received from the other side of the world. Imagine a world of complete autonomy, where connected cars could drive us to our next destination . . .
These applications may seem a way off for now, but they are becoming possible with 5G, says Rakon CEO Brent Robinson.
“Every ‘G’ or Generation of new wireless network brings faster speed and functionality to our wireless devices. 5G will not only bring significant improvements to capability and the end-user experience for existing applications like video streaming, data transfer of distributed databases, real time data transfer and downloading; the functionality will also bring to life many applications that are simply not yet possible,” he says.
So what does 5G enable that 4G technology cannot?
“5G will be ten times faster and will allow 1000 times more traffic capacity than 4G networks. It will open up room for more users and more traffic. A key factor is the very low latency that 5G is enabling. Latency is the delay you experience from the time data is transmitted and received. It is the buffering or the frozen static image you see on screen of that person you are video calling, or the lag in time while you wait for that movie to download.”
For Rakon the opportunities lie in the precise timing that is required for 5G.
“We’re providing the precise timing that enables 5G to operate. Low latency is based around synchronised timing, which our OCXOs and TCXOs can provide. Our products are embedded in the equipment that is supplied into the telecommunications networks. It is the low latency of 5G that will enable real time data applications like remote surgeries and autonomous cars to become a reality. With applications like these, the time taken to transmit and receive data is critical.”
Technologies are also emerging as the foundation of 5G – one of them being millimetre waves. Users are demanding more data and bandwidth. Currently, this demand is largely fulfilled by frequencies on the radio frequency spectrum at between 1 GHz to 6 GHz, says Brent.
“5G is opening up the spectrum for mobile devices to operate on shorter millimetre waves with frequencies that fall between 30 to 300GHz, which is opening up the bandwidth.
We are supplying high frequency, low noise VCXOs and timing devices that allow for higher frequencies to be used – up into the 30 to 60 GHz range. To use these very high frequency spectrums they need high frequency quartz crystal products to allow them to access these bands. So in addition to our products being able to provide the reference for the timing, we are also able to provide the high frequency, low noise source required for millimetre wave frequency bands.”
Rakon’s gain in revenue in the telecommunications segment is an indication that the 5G roll-out has begun and Brent says the company is well-positioned with its product offering, for anticipated widespread deployment.
“5G roll-out is happening in China and South Korea right now. There are a few countries where it is widely deployed already and it’s rolling out further. With dominant share allocations from key Tier One customers secured, our products are being designed into all the main network providers’ 5G equipment.”
Brent says that networks around the world are running out of capacity. With the COVID-19 pandemic there has been a radical change in the way the world conducts its business, putting further unprecedented demand on network traffic and accelerating 5G roll-out.
“Really, next year in 2021, I think, is when we will see large 5G roll-out, but with the coronavirus it may change. It seems there have been a lot of commitments to accelerate it given COVID-19. With more demand for data, with people selfisolating and working from home, we believe that trend will continue after the COVID-19 health emergency ends. People will be adopting remote working as a mode, because they will be able to see that they can,” he says.
Rakon sees further opportunities ahead – not only for telecommunications, but also in its other core markets of space & defence and global positioning.
“In global positioning we are well positioned for the higher end industrial products like seismic surveying, where there are difficult environmental requirements like low g-sensitivity, wide temperature range and very high precision. This is where Rakon basically comes into its own in that end of the market, rather than the consumer end. So we’re positioned well, we’ve got a great product offering and that end of the market is growing for us.”
Brent says the company will continue to see a convergence of its technologies across all of its core markets in the future.
“In the New Space market, for example, we are leveraging our heritage in supplying the geostationary market and a blend of telecommunications and GNSS products where there is a lot more volume. Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites are being mainly used today for global broadband coverage. We’ve been developing a hybrid between telecommunications, GNSS and space products to deliver a lower cost, radiation hard product offering for this application. We are continuing to leverage the combined expertise of our R&D teams to enable new applications as they emerge.”
This article was first published in Rakon's Annual Review Document in July 2020.
Louise Howe (Media Liaison)
+64 21 206 0985