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2022 Tech Trends in Pittsburgh Requiring a Strong Fiber Backbone

The rise of the internet of things (IoT) means an incoming influx of smart devices and embedded intelligence meant to increase productivity, communication, and efficiency across physical spaces. Generally speaking, new tech trends tend to focus on this new way to acquire precise information from various pieces of equipment, enabling users to predict success and prevent failure more precisely than ever. But what does all this mean for the Pittsburgh business community? The following are areas to keep your eye on for new technology bolstered by fiber deployments:

Agriculture Technology

With over 2 million farms employing roughly 965,000 people, American farms contributed $136.1 billion to the country’s GDP in 2019. With Americans depending on farming for food and livelihood, Precision Agriculture (PA) and Precision Livestock Farming (PLF) are becoming more important than ever. Simply put, these two paradigms are all about leveraging technology and data to help farmers maximize the output of their crops as well as better support their livestock.

Thanks to advancements in cloud computing and new investments in wireline and wireless networks, farmers are increasingly able to leverage data in real-time, speeding the time it takes to realize new efficiencies. But with the plethora of sensors, 5G-enabled drones, GPS-guided tractors, and AI fertilization systems increasingly being leveraged, bandwidth and latency requirements are only becoming more pressing. Going fiber deep will be the solution, ensuring rapid and reliable performance for farmers looking for a data-driven edge in the field or barn.

Robotics

Pittsburgh is home to the National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), which has been a key driver in the establishment of the city’s famous “Robotics Row.” Indeed, the Pittsburgh area boasts over 100 robotics companies, and counting. These research facilities require ultra-high broadband fiber network connections to perform their work, but that’s just the beginning. Once the end products of their research are implemented in real-world environments, the need for network support will only increase. Here are a few examples of Pittsburgh companies on the brink of changing the market with new robotic solutions:

  • IAM Robotics aims to streamline warehouse operations with a piece-picking autonomous mobile robot
  • Kiwibot started a pilot program introducing autonomous delivery bots for residential areas
  • Seegrid announced early access to its new autonomous lift truck, meant for warehouse use
  • RE2 added to its Pittsburgh team to help with new product launches in the defense industry

Network Expansion

Spreading access to high-speed broadband internet into the urban and rural areas around Pennsylvania has become a hot topic. Through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is investing a total of $20.4 billion on the construction of rural broadband networks in underserved areas of America, including around Pittsburgh. The FCC has already selected the winners of the Phase I auction and they will be receiving $9.2 billion in funding over the next 10 years to bring speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps to underserved America, thereby closing the country’s digital divide. What’s important to note about RDOF is that, in Pennsylvania, almost all the winners are on track to deploy broadband at speeds of 100 Mbps, with 65% aiming for gigabit-speed broadband. Bringing these plans into fruition will require the deployment of new fiber no matter what type of network architectures (i.e. Fiber-to-the-Home, etc.) the winning service providers select.

Medical Technology

Pittsburgh’s life sciences industry has grown 23% in the last three years, driving the need for high-speed network connections in the health services and medical research sectors. For instance, fiber deployments can reliably support remote collaboration between geographically-disperse medical teams conducting vital medical research. Inherently more secure than legacy copper-coax cables, fiber-optic networks are also critical in supporting the secure transfer and storage of patient data.

It’s not just medical research and patient data that will require major network support, either. The age of IoT means that medical facilities themselves will require more online devices than ever before. Take, for example, the Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative’s recent grant worth half a million dollars toward making Pittsburgh the epicenter of autonomous patient safety technology – a field that involves plenty of new, online cameras and sensors. This kind of technology is both speed and latency-sensitive, demanding the performance that only fiber can offer.

As you can see, there are some exciting tech trends bubbling up in Pittsburgh in 2022 that will not only impact the quality of life and food production but also drive new opportunities for careers and education. Most importantly, they’ll all depend on a strong fiber backbone. Why? Because all this new technology means more data to transport and greater requirements for speed and low latency in order to get those vital efficiencies that can make our lives better. Is your business ready?