Marching To Their Own Drumbeat

Read Yesterday a news article on Light Reading about an evolving Cable Broadband Standard in China called HiNOC: “HiNOC (High Performance Network Over Coax) is one of three EoC technologies approved by the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of China, for the NGB project. C-Docsis and C-HomePlug are the other two.” The “C” prefix for Docsis and HomePlug also indicate that these are Chinese variants of Docsis and HomePIug standards.

This is an interesting news and speaks volumes about how mature technological processes are. Let me explain why…

Not The First Time
This is not the first time that China has created a standard of their own. It may be recalled that when LTE standards were specified for what is today called 4G wireless technology, while Europe came up with a Frequency Division Duplex (FDD), China created a Time Division Duplex (TDD) variant, which was better in spectral efficiency and more suitable for asynchronous traffic patterns like those between uplink and downlink for Internet access. This has since become a well accepted standard catapulting Chinese manufacturers into global arena and have been favoured even in competition with the European giants.

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So, it is not a mere flash in the pan. It is a consistent capability!

The Demographic Dividend
Just like setting a fashion, a new technology is only as successful as the number of people who adopt it. As the most populous nation, the scale of adoption can never be in doubt, when it comes to China.

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The best example to prove this case is that of Telstra in Australia, where the CDMA network had to be sunset because (it was not easy to roam and) it was not possible to make inexpensive handsets for the frequency band in which they decided to operate since it was different from that in rest of the world.

Technology Expertise
It is not just economies of scale as the much abused cliché states. It is also about availability of expertise in the technology. This implies a strong setup of educational institutes, where research is encouraged in letter and spirit.

It is also indicative of an ability to keep brain drain in check by making technology oriented life remunerative.

And finally, it is also indicative of an ability to bring the right set of people together given that modern technology can spread across multiple areas of expertise.

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Import Independence
Merely having a large market or the technological expertise is not sufficient to guarantee that one can create a market for new technology and sustain it. A feasible technology is one that can be productised. If component availability or price is not controlled the feasibility goes for a toss.

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In the case of China, I think what would matter most would be how much of the components can be procured from within China, given the level of control their Government has on pricing, labor costs etc.

 

Openness To Experimentation 
And, beyond all that is given above, there should be a certain arrow of openness towards conducting trials and tolerating errors; in other words to conduct and sustain experiments. It requires an approach and mindset tuned to feeling the comfort of deep pockets.

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