Within the last century alone the telecommunications industry has gone through multiple technologically driven revolutions. A lot of these revolutionary products replaced their predecessors entirely, but the power and cable lines that drive them have only gotten bigger. Dive into the history of the telecommunications industry, courtesy of Mohawk, and learn about some of the big changes that impacted our industry alongside these revolutionary discoveries and creations.
Television – Soon after Philo Farnsworth created a promising prototype television in 1927, the Radio Corporation of America backed a competing device by Vladimir Zworykin and court action would eventually resolve the case in Farnsworth's favor. The early television technology relied on cathode ray tubing and transmitted using microwave radio relays and coaxial cable. Much of the country would be crossed with new power lines and cable delivery routes by the mid 1900's as television networks spread around the world. During this time, knob-and-tube porcelain insulating tubes were common in wiring infrastructure, supporting connectors and copper wire where free ends of wires attached to boxes, fixtures, devices and other wire.
Computers – In 1940, George Stibitz was able to transmit problems using a teletypewriter to his Complex Numbers Calculator in New York and have the results sent back to him. This text-to-terminal model would soon become widely popular due to both high computing costs and the transition to personal computing away form massive mainframe computers. By this time, the old knob-and-tube system was being replaced and wires with cotton braids and rubberized exteriors were becoming the norm. Armored cable had also been gaining popularity in the marketplace and had only been around since 1899.
Computing Network – The research networks of the late 1960's and early 1970's expanded on computing terminals by creating separate nodes for connecting, eventually becoming ARPANET. It would expand to non-US nodes stating in 1973. This was facilitated by packet switching technology, which allows data to be sent in chunks to other computers instead of first passing through a mainframe. In addition to packet-swapping, thermoplastic – or synthetic spun rayon – started replacing braided jackets altogether in the early 1960's and was even more popular by 1970.
Internet – ARPANET's development was based around the “Request for Comment” process, in which researchers and engineers requested time and discussions from their peers. This collaboration, especially between 1969 and the early 1980's, eventually led to the combination of the Internet Protocol v4 and the Transmission Control Protocol, effectively creating TCP/IP Protocol that much of the internet relies on today. Around the same time as internet's early development during the late 1960's and early 1970's, a price rise in copper led to widespread copper replacement with aluminum wire cable until the mid-to-late 1970's when the price of copper fell again.
1G Networks – Telecommunications, especially in the early years, was a system of inventing and piggy-backing off of prior technological developments. The advent of copper cabling allowed transmissions across a variety of mediums (TV, radio, internet) but the biggest telecommunications booms had yet to hit. The first commercially automated cellular network (the 1G generation) was officially launched by Japan in 1979. Within 5 years, the network had expanded from coverage of only metropolitan Tokyo to the entire population of Japan. In the early 1980's many other countries would follow 1G network implementation including Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the US. The UK, Mexico and Canada would all follow soon after. An important advancement around this time was the introduction of non-metallic thermoplastic tubing and flexible conduit, both of which were essentially unchanged from the nonmetallic conduit, wooden and metal raceways from the 1960's and before.
2G & 2.5G Networks – The next generation of mobile networks would start being released about a decade after their predecessors, starting in 1991 with Finland. The 2G network was superior because it encrypted conversations, it was more efficient, penetrated through objects and the environment better and introduced data services starting with SMS text messages. In the early 1990's several circuit breaker manufacturers would band together to develop the arc-fault circuit-interrupter, which enhances over-current protection provided by a residential breaker. This would replace the earlier ground-fault circuit-interrupter and by the late 1990's most locations in and around the home would be required to have either a GFCI, or later, an AFCI.
3G Networks – Researched and developed across almost 15 years, 3G Networking technology started its launch in Japan, 1998. Within the next few years it would start to expand across the world as companies and commercialization caught up to R & D. Around this time twist-on connects for copper to aluminum wire combinations was reintroduced, after most of these products disappeared off shelves over a decade earlier following enhanced requirements and product standards.
4G Networks – Today's 4G technology was envisioned courtesy of DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency). While previous mobile networks had dual infrastructures of both packet-switched and circuit-switched networks, 4G only utilizes a packet-switched network – so even traditional services like voice calling are now replaced with IP telephony. Increased bandwidth demands from an expanding mobile user base as well as streaming online content delivery have proven that fiber networks are the future. As single-mode fiber usage continues to expand, data centers are more easily able to accommodate the 10GBASE-T and 100GBASE-T network speeds that our future networks require.
The Future – The future of telecommunications is at present, largely unknown. The next generation of mobile networks is under development by the groups that assisted in developing and deploying of previous networks, but it is estimated that 5G won't be available to the public until around 2020. The consistent trend of innovative technologies forces us to question what form communicating with our friends, families and businesses will take in the future. While no one may be able to predict the next Facebook, the next iteration of email or the next device that could usurp smartphones and tablets, one thing is for sure – we will certainly need a lot of cable to keep pace with the growing telecommunications needs across the world!
For more information about Mohawk or their cabling solutions, contact your local Accu-Tech representative today.