MDE Semiconductor, Inc. + Transtector Systems Partner for Powerful Custom Telecommunications Surge Protection Device


According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in 2017, the digital economy accounted for 6.9 percent of the U.S. GDP and almost 5.1 million jobs{1}. Goods and activities covered by their definition of the digital economy fell into three categories: e-commerce transactions, purchases involving digital products and services, and products enabling the digital infrastructure for the existence and operation of connected computer networks.


Since our reliance on information and communication technologies shows no signs of slowing anytime soon, it’s easy to conclude that a significant portion of the country’s economy depends by association, on the equipment that makes everything run—telecommunications.


With our economy so heavily dependent on the telecom industry, it’s important to keep the world’s telecom equipment running smoothly and protected from interruption caused by power surges or lightning strikes.


Transtector Systems, founded in 1967, provides technological solutions to ensure power, signal integrity, and the reliable operation of telecommunication equipment and devices. This includes protection for critical AC, DC, Data line equipment, integrated cabinets and power distribution panels from EMP events and lightning strikes.


From their specialized knowledge and expertise at manipulating non-degrading silicone diode components and custom filters, the company produces a diverse range of surge protection devices for highly sensitive, low-voltage equipment.


MDE Semiconductor, Inc. is proud to have partnered with Transtector Systems, over the last 20 years, to supply their equipment with a customer-specific design of our MAX-20 CELL and MAX-40 CELL Series Transient Voltage Suppressor Diodes. Together, we provide custom protective devices that are tightly matched with the advanced requirements of the telecommunications industry.


Let’s dive a bit deeper into the need for such a custom surge protection device to keep the world’s telecom industry running smoothly.


The Demand for Connectivity Continues to Rise


Mobile phones have transformed over the last decade from a device to make phone calls into the smartphone, a mobile internet-connected computer. Besides, by combining multiple individual electronics into one neat package, its impact has been unprecedented.  Cell phones have become an indispensable extension of our individuality.


Statistia puts the number of smartphone users in the US in 2017 at around 224.3 million{2}. Many of these devices are always on and always connected. Their owners use them for work, travel, play, to obtain information on the go, and access global products and services.


Children and previously unreached adults become customers after receiving/purchasing their first smartphones, and developers continue to create new apps that keep customers connected and attached to their phones.


The amount of strain all these connected devices put on telecommunications infrastructure is enormous. What is more, users demand fast and reliable connectivity at all times and will judge a service provider negatively for any disruption to their service.


Unfortunately, the infrastructure consists of advanced computer-based components required to perform crucial tasks like data processing but are sensitive and easily damaged. Adding to the challenge, these components operate in environments that may be exposed to weather elements and man-made activities.


Why Surge Protection Devices Are Critical in the Telecommunications Industry


Physical structures and internal climate-controlled spaces are the first line of defense, providing a basic level of protection. However, they are no match for the large amounts of energy unleashed by a power surge, the great enemy of connectivity.


Power surges can completely destroy sensitive equipment, often running into multiple millions of dollars, sending a cell tower offline. Or, they degrade equipment overtime so it would need eventual replacement.


Service providers cannot simply pass on the costs directly to their customers who are always on the lookout for cheaper prices elsewhere, and the market is competitive. Instead, it is imperative for businesses to stop money losses in the form of part replacement and labor costs. It requires installing the most advanced protection technologies available to maximize lifespans and ensure efficient system operation.


Causes of Power Surges


Power surges are characterized by their duration, frequency, and amplitude. They may be caused by lightning or induced in power lines by utility grid switching, power cycling of inductive loads or power factor correction actions. Those originating from sources apart from lightning tend to propagate to longer distances and have the potential to do more harm. Lightning-induced impulses diminish over shorter distances.


Lightning Strikes


Lightning strikes can last microseconds, travel an average of 6 miles with frequencies anywhere between 100 kHz to 1 gHz and leave a wake of destruction to unprotected systems. These sudden energy bursts from nature are responsible for more than $1 billion in losses to the power industry annually, about 30% of power outages{3}.


When lightning strikes, not only will the point of the strike be affected, the power surge can propagate through connected electrical and data cables, to downstream equipment, a catastrophic chain of events.


The construction and placement of cell towers make them inevitable magnets of lightning strikes. They are often the tallest structures in a region and are isolated to prevent obstruction of cell signals. The remote radio head, RRH, at a tower’s top is an obvious target. And since it’s connected to the base station unit via data and power lines, will pass on unwanted transients through those channels.


Since we can’t force Mother Nature to do our bidding, we must act defensively against her whims. Surge protection devices defend against the resulting transient electricity flow after a power surge and should be installed inside the tower’s networks and around its external infrastructure.


Transient Voltages


Voltage transients may be caused by equipment malfunctions, EMP effects, faulty load switching, and power anomalies, and the generated voltages exceed the maximum levels specified for equipment leading to disaster.


Although transients are temporary events lasting microseconds with undetermined frequencies, the damage they cause can be permanent. The variability of their nature is also a concern, as they are difficult to predict. Dependable transient voltage suppressors are therefore installed as a surge protection device at the point of use of sensitive equipment and downstream of potential entry paths.


How a Surge Protection Device Works

A surge protection device, SPD, acts by either diverting or cutting off completely, the flow of electricity if the generated voltage exceeds or reaches a specified level. Advanced protection measures ideal for telecommunications equipment will allow the flow of electricity within safe levels to continue so the system continues to function reliably, instead of requiring a reset or replacement after preventing a surge.

SPDs like MOVs, GDTs, SASDs or their hybrids should be placed before critical flow junctures along the electrical distribution system. The main distribution points call for devices that are the most energy dissipating, compared to electrical outlets or subpanels. Through system integration, surge protection becomes part of the robust design and never an afterthought. Redundant installations of SPDs provide a second layer of protection in case primary defenses fail.


MDE Semiconductor, Inc. + Transtector Systems Partner for Powerful Custom Telecommunications Surge Protection Device

The modern economy relies heavily on telecoms services. In turn, providers invest huge capital on high-tech equipment to meet the increasing capacity demands. That these advanced and expensive technologies can lose functionality in an instant because of power surges is enough incentive to protect them from momentary power surges.


Such a high-tech surge protection device faces stringent tests against long and short waveforms to confirm its performance and that it meets stipulated voltage and surge current levels. In addition, integrated design and customization are necessary. Standalone device features are insufficient to cater to the complexity found in network infrastructure.


Customized design offers more control over components of the protective device ensuring maximum protection performance. Such designs can contribute to improvements of up to 35% in protection versus commodity silicon diode construction.


MDE Semiconductor, Inc. provides custom assemblies built to customer-specific designs for board level surge protection with a specialization in Transient Voltage Suppressor (TVS) Diode products. Our innovative MAX-20 CELL and MAX-40 CELL Series TVS Diodes can be stacked and configured up to 18 stacks to achieve unique voltage, power, or package requirements are the type of assemblies Transtector Systems requires to custom design surge protectors for telecoms clients.


Our entire inventory of silicon devices is fabricated using our unique low leakage glass passivation process with high-energy absorption capability from 400 watts up to 288,000 watts. Our broad range of products includes Standard Transient Voltage Suppressor Diodes, High Current TVS Diodes, Thyristors, and Varistors.


Transtector Systems provides products for:


AC surge protection: Using SASD and MOV technology, these products are available with remote monitoring and high discharge current capacity.

DC surge protection: For equipment running on DC current.

Data line surge protection: For low voltage signals such as Gigabit PoE, Ethernet, RS-232 | RS-422 | RS-485, CCTV, DeviceNet, PoE, PoE+, PoE++, Gigabit Ethernet, etc.

Protection against EMP and EMI: Using innovative filter technologies to EMP harden units and equipment

Signal integrity solutions: Products correct for distortions in voltage, current and harmonic quality. Used in mobile AC and DC power distribution systems and base station cable management components.

MDE Semiconductor, Inc. and Transtector Systems continue to aim for the highest quality, performance specifications and control processes, ensuring systems and protective devices are tightly-matched.



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