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Navigating the Cellular Network Evolution

April 30th, 2024

Navigating the Cellular Network Evolution

In the ever-evolving landscape of telecommunications, the cellular network stands as a cornerstone of connectivity for Chiptech solutions. Behind the scenes, there exists a complex web of technologies, protocols, and standards that ensure seamless communication between devices.  
Every access technology, from 1G to 5G, has its own lifecycle, marked by an origin, maturity, and eventual obsolescence. Understanding these cellular network cut-off dates is essential, as it plays a pivotal role in driving changes and innovations within digital telecare, alongside community care, and the aged care industry. 

Brief Overview of Cellular Network Evolution

1G – Introduced in the 1980s, 1G laid the foundation for mobile telephony, enabling basic voice calls with limited coverage and quality. 

2G – The Digital Revolution, with the advent of digital technology, 2G provided SMS and data services.  

3G – This access technology enabled mobile internet access, paving the way for services like video calling and mobile browsing. 

4G – Offers substantially faster data speeds, enabling the rise of mobile apps, streaming services, and IoT applications. 

5G – With faster speeds, ultra-low latency, and massive connectivity, 5G looks to revolutionise industries such as manufacturing, and transportation. 

Understanding Cellular Network Cut-Off Dates

Cellular network cut-off dates refer to the discontinuation of support for specific access technologies by network operators. These technologies encompass a wide range of protocols and standards, each representing a step forward in the evolution of wireless communication. From 2G to 3G, and now transitioning to 4G and beyond, these cut-off dates signal a shift towards more efficient, faster, and reliable networks. 

Several factors contribute to the establishment of cut-off dates: 

Network operators are compelled to phase out outdated technologies to make room for newer, more efficient ones. For instance, the transition from 2G to 3G was driven by the need for faster data speeds and enhanced multimedia capabilities. 

Each generation of wireless technology utilises spectrum bands differently. Newer technologies often make more efficient use of the available spectrum, allowing for higher data throughput and better coverage. By decommissioning older technologies, operators can reallocate spectrum resources to newer technologies, maximizing efficiency. 

Maintaining support for multiple access technologies can be costly for network operators. By streamlining their infrastructure to focus on the latest technologies, operators can reduce operational expenses and invest resources more effectively in improving network quality and coverage. 

Pending Australasia Cut-off Dates

Telco2G3G4G
TelstraClosedFrom 31/08/2024 

TBD 

OptusClosed

From 01/09/2024 

TBD 

VodafoneClosed

From 01/09/2024 

TBD 

SparkN/A

End of 2025 

TBD 

One NZ31/12/2025

31/03/2025 

TBD 

2 Degrees

Closed

End of 2025 

TBD 

Driving Innovation

In the preceding period leading up to a cut-off date, Chiptech has a surge of research and development efforts aimed at optimising our existing technology and expertise to pioneer new solutions that meet our customer and end user needs. Cut-off dates provide a drive for new innovations, along with the development of new product ecosystems, such as SEVEN and Adi to provide comprehensive packages of care.

The improvements in access technology drive the integration of newer technologies into our products, ensuring compatibility with modern networks and future-proofing devices against obsolescence.

Cut-off Date Implications for Chiptech Devices

Chiptech endeavours to front foot these technology advancements by bringing new products to market as soon as possible that operate on the latest access technology. The intention is to provide our customers with ample time to plan and undertake replacement programmes for the existing products that they have installed in market, to ease the capital burden of transitioning product ranges to keep pace with access technology changes.  

In some instances the implementation of core functions such as VoLTE on specific network operators or SIM platforms has hampered progress to release Chiptech SEVEN PERS and mPERS GO 4G devices on specific networks that rely on such offerings for communication.  

Looking Ahead

As we move towards the era of 4G and beyond, the establishment of cut-off dates for older access technologies will continue to shape the trajectory of technological advancements in digital telecare products designed and manufactured at Chiptech. The rapid pace of innovation driven by these cut-off dates promises a future where connectivity is faster, more reliable, and more pervasive than ever before.

The cellular network cut-off dates serve as catalysts for change within our digital industry, driving innovation, efficiency, and progress. As we bid farewell to older technologies, we welcome new wireless communications, provide enhanced product features, and look to new possibilities for telecare devices in the future.

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Understanding how to protect against Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)​

August 31st, 2023

For the month of July 2023 we ran an Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Protection awareness campaign with all our Chiptech team members. This included posters and little tips strategically placed throughout our facility on interesting facts and best practice relating to static damage. The end of the campaign culminated in a group quiz, with winners taking home exciting prizes. We are proud that all teams scored highly and there was only a small variation in results between the ten groups. 

At Chiptech we regularly talk about static electricity, it’s potential to impact the electronic products we manufacture and the steps and testing that we undertake in our factory to prevent damage from occurring.  In this blog we share some of the common approaches that can be applied in your own operations for servicing Chiptech products, or when working with other electronics. 

Chiptech New Zealand uses Anti-Static Mats, Wrist-straps, and foot-straps for grounding when producing their tech products

What is static electricity and why is it bad for electronics?

The classic demonstration of static electricity occurs when you rub a balloon on your hair and then stick it to your top or the wall. Static electricity is an imbalance of electric charges within or on the surface of a material. It occurs when two materials come into contact and then separate, causing the transfer of electrons from one material to another. This accumulation of electric charge can result in a sudden discharge, known as electrostatic discharge (ESD). A common example of electrostatic discharge is when you shuffle your feet on carpet and then ‘zap’ someone when you touch them.

When manufacturing and handling electronics, especially where intricate circuits and sensitive components are prevalent, static electricity poses a risk. Electronic components have become incredibly small and operate on lower voltage levels, which makes them more sensitive to static discharges. This largely unseen phenomenon can cause irreparable damage to electronic components, leading to defects, and has the potential to reduce a products a lifespan. To mitigate these risks, Chiptech actively use anti-static protection in all parts of our manufacturing and servicing processes. Below are some of the key steps we follow. Which could be applied to your own operations.

Anti-Static Steps

To prevent the negative effects of static electricity, anti-static protection measures are employed including anti-static workstations, wearing special clothing and footwear that dissipate static charges, grounding equipment and using anti-static packaging for components and parts as they are handled and moved.

Workstations and grounding equipment

An anti-static workstation is recommended when opening Chiptech products and directly touching the printed circuit board (PCB).

There are a few key considerations when setting one up to ensure it works well for servicing. Select a clean, dry, and non-carpeted area for your workstation. Avoid places with high humidity, as this can increase the risk of static buildup. Place an anti-static mat on the table or workspace. This mat should cover the entire area where you’ll be handling electronic components. Use a grounding cord or wire to connect the grounding point on the anti-static mat to a reliable earth ground. This ground could be a grounding plug in a wall outlet or a dedicated grounding point in your facility. Once the anti-static mat is grounded you can connect a wrist strap between the mat and yourself.

At Chiptech, we typically use foot straps as we have grounded floors, and this is a more convenient option for staff, but we also use wrist straps for those sitting while working, as pictured.  

Clothing Material and Anti-Static Tops

Certain clothing materials are more likely to produce static electricity. These materials include:

  • Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and rayon. These materials have low moisture retention and can build up a static charge easily.
  • Wool and fleece fabrics can generate static electricity due to their insulating properties. The rubbing or friction between these materials and other surfaces can lead to static buildup.
  • Silk is a natural fabric that has a smooth surface, which can create friction and result in the accumulation of static charge.

Wearing clothing made from natural fibres like cotton or linen can help reduce the likelihood of static buildup since these materials tend to have better moisture absorption properties and are less likely to generate static charges.

Chiptech supply our production staff and those working in manufacturing spaces with anti-static tops or jackets to wear over their clothing to prevent electrostatic discharge. If you are servicing electronic products, it is a good to invest in clothing that will prevent inadvertent damage.  

Packaging

When storing and transporting electronic components or PCBs it is good to use anti-static bags and containers to shield them from external static charges. We employ this process throughout or supply chain, in house, when moving products around during the manufacturing process and when we ship specific PCB only products to customers.

If you are planning to open cases and store any Chiptech products outside of their cases, then we recommend storage in sealed anti-static bags.

Anti-Static Testing

While there are several protective measures that can be applied, it is also important to regularly test their effectiveness. Within our manufacturing facility we have staff daily test that they are grounded correctly and that they are wearing the correct clothing for their work environment. Putting these checks in places ensures that the proactive measures taken are having the desired effect.

 

Conclusion

In summary, the realm of electronics manufacturing, servicing of miniature and ultra-low power components, and where reliability in product behaviour is paramount, the threat of static electricity cannot be underestimated. Incorporating and regularly testing the effectiveness of anti-static protection measures are necessary to ensure product quality and uphold industry standards. By ensuring our whole Chiptech team, the people servicing our products and visitors onsite understand the potential risks of static electricity and implementing appropriate safeguards, we steer clear of the shocking consequences that electrostatic damage can bring.

 

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