Five industry trends for cables in the 5G era

The digital transformation, brought about by the next generation of mobile communications, 5G, is changing the global needs for network infrastructures. To actively shape the change, the Multimedia Solutions (MMS) division of the Prysmian Group is working on the development of innovative fibre optic and copper communication cables. 

Andreas Wassmuth, Business Development Director at MMS, explains which five industry trends are driving innovation at MMS to manage the digital transformation.

  1. Wassmuth cites the increase in bandwidth as the first trend: "The increase in bandwidth is why we have moved from Category 5 to Cat6, 6A, 7 and 8, and from OM3 multimode fibre to OM4 or OM5. It's like building a motorway wide enough to meet the traffic demands of the future."
  1. The second driver is high density and reduced dimensions, which make cables easier to install, more flexible to handle and more environmentally friendly. "Driving this trend means a clear competitive advantage," says MMS Business Development Director Wassmuth. "I think we will be confronted with more and more regulations in the future that require environmentally friendly products. And that will be reflected in our portfolio."
  1. Hybrid cables, which combine power and signal transmission, are a third important driver of innovation. "All active devices from switches to sensors need both," says Wassmuth. Prysmian can deliver both power and data transmission in a single cable, be it copper or fibre.
  1. Safety is a fourth key factor. This includes, in particular, compliance with the CPR (Construction Products Regulation) in Europe or the UL (Underwriters Laboratories) in the USA. "In every meeting over the last few years, in every conference, in research and development, in relation to Europe, we always talk about CPR, i.e. increased safety in the building," says Wassmuth, adding: "The integration of General Cable allows Prysmian Group engineers to better address global safety aspects."
  1. Finally, it is crucial to design these products so that they are easy to use. "We optimise the products for installation," Wassmuth explains. "For example, we are starting to sell our cables in boxes instead of on spools, which makes installation easier and avoids waste."
It is difficult to predict exactly what kind of cabling systems will be needed in buildings in ten years' time to fulfil the promise of 5G. At the same time, Wassmuth emphasises: "No company can drive innovation alone. That is why we will continue to work with our customers in the different segments to understand what they need and where they are going. One thing is certain: data cables will become even more powerful, denser, hybrid, secure and user-friendly in the future. MMS produces fibre and copper indoor cables for wired and mobile communications in data centres, purpose-built buildings (hospitals, schools, universities, airports), venues (stadiums, theatres), homes, offices and factories. These cables support the deployment of 5G communications, which is expected to grow exponentially.