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Solution Series: (Part 3 of 4) Intelligent DC Power Distribution Panels from ICT

Welcome back to the Solution Series brought to you by DoubleRadius and hosted by, yours truly, Jeff Holdenrid. 


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Once again we have Blair from ICT with us. 


This is Part 3 of a 4-Part series to discuss ICT Solutions, and we wanted to split it up because ICT does so many various things and we wanted to make sure we covered each one of them equally so we can answer more questions and cover more content.


To get started today .. Will ICT be attending WISPAmerica?



Blair: That is correct, we will be attending. We do it every year, it is a great show for us.



Jeff: For those who do not know, there is a group called “WISPA”. They represent the Wireless Internet Service Providers across the country. They  also do a lot in D.C. fighting for the WISP community and host 2 events every year; WISPAmerica (usually on the east coast in the 1st half of the year) and WISPAPalooza (in Vegas during the 2nd half of the year). This year March 6th-9th, 2023 in Louisville, KY at the Convention Center. Come see ICT in Booth #117 and DoubleRadius is right around the corner at Booth #211.


Let’s dive in and talk about ICT. Over the last 2 sessions we discussed who ICT is, and we went over their DC Power Supplies. Today, we are going to get into Distribution and the parts and pieces needed.



Blair: For those who are not familiar with our concept we produce power supplies and power systems which provide a DC voltage used to power up low devices on your network, whether it is on the tower or base of the tower. Quite often, if not always the case, there are multiple devices that require DC power. Typically, with our solutions we will have one volt DC power supply providing enough power to all of those devices. But in order to distribute that DC voltage to those multiple devices the best and most effective method is to have a DC distribution panel. What they do is feed the voltage coming from the DC Power Plant, Power Supply, or Power System into the DC Distribution Panel. There are multiple connection points on the Distribution Panel. We have various different panels with different numbers of outputs and those are where you connect your load devices to. Now you have individual connect points for each of your load devices. That is the concept behind DC distribution, it is fairly common in the telecommunications space. In terms of ICT and what we offer; we have been producing DC Distribution Panels since 2010. The difference with our panels and why they have been so widely received and appreciated by customers is their intelligence. Previously a lot of the DC distribution panels would effectively take the DC voltage and just give you connection points to power up your load devices from those points. Intelligent Distribution Panels enables you to monitor each individual output, the load current for each device, turn devices on and off remotely, and we added that intelligence to provide that type of functionality.


In terms of the different models we offer; we offer a wide selection based upon the customers needs:


  • “Single Bus” DC Distribution Panels; are typically utilized when only 1 DC voltage is needed at the communication site (48 volts DC). You would have a single bus and the DC voltage is fed in and distributed to your loads. We have varies different ones that can provide fused outputs, different variety of fuses (GMT, ATO, etc) depending on the customers needs.


  • “Dual Bus” DC Distribution Panels; are typically used generally when there is more than 1 voltage at the site. Most primarily use 48 volts DC but some peripheral devices may require 28 volts DC to operate. Having a Dual Bus Distribution Panel enables you have to 48 volt devices connected on one of the busses and 28 volts connected on another bus while being able to monitor all those outputs on our graphical user interface to control those devices as needed.



Jeff: Being able to control each bus (or breaker) will give you the ability to remote power-cycle your radios, correct?



Blair: It does. You can look at a DC Distribution Panel similarly to a network switch. You have the traffic and the individual devices to it, managing the network traffic. A DC Distribution Panel is almost like the switch but is a DC type device and distributes the DC. In each individual outputs the intelligent versions of ICT Distribution Panel we actually have a relay that you can use to disconnect your load devices. If you have a particular load device at one of your tower sites that has locked up and is non-responsive, rather than having to send a technician to the site and, quite often in a lot of cases, they just go in and switch the switch off and on to reboot itself quickly like you would see with your router at home (unplug and plug back in), now we can log in remotely and turn that specific device that is having an issue and cycle power to it remotely if you choose to do so. It will keep all the other devices powered up so we are not shutting down the entire site, simply rebooting that particular device that is having an issue. Quite often that will simply bring it back on line and the site is working to 100% again. That is one of the many advantages of having intelligent distribution.



Jeff: Key point to that; what is the actual cost to sending a technician to a tower? Being able to troubleshoot and solve the problem without doing a truck roll, almost pays for itself with the equipment right there! That is a huge benefit on what ICT is doing with their distribution.



Blair: In addition to that, obviously, if your network is down for that period of time (or even a portion of it) while you are sending a truck to that site that has quality of service implications potentially as well for the people who are using your networks.  If you can get that up and running in a couple minutes instead of a couple hours then obviously, your network is better and hardened against things that do occur. Occasionally, devices lock up sometimes. A lot of these sites have battery back-up, and there is a certain finite of battery backup, whether it is 8 hours or 4 hours (however you design your site to). We also have the low-shedding capabilities so if you are on a battery back-up and your battery voltage is slowly decreasing, we can have customers pre-program our units to disconnect non-critical or non-essential loads at the site (light, lamp, camera, etc) to keep the critical loads running longer, because the load on the battery has been reduced, keeping the most critical devices running for a longer period of time.



Jeff: In your distribution, going back to your descriptions, you have 12 ports and 20 ports is what you offer currently? 



Blair: Yes. We have a variety to suit different applications. On the Dual Bus we have a 12 output, which is 6 outputs for Bus A, and 6 outputs for Bus B. You could have 6 dedicated to 28 and 6 dedicated to 24. Some customers use our Dual Bus and connect 48 on both sides, you can use it that way as well. It does provide 12 outputs and those outputs can be protected by fuses, each output has a protective device inline with it. If there is excessive or short circuit occurs, that fuse will blow. We also have breaker versions too, the breaker will trip just like in your home, then you need to go to the site to see why the overcurrent condition occurred for that particular channel and reset the breaker. That is the advantage of the breaker over the fuse is the “reset” ability. 


We also have a 20 output distribution that provides 10 outputs on Bus B, and 10 on Bus A as well. Some customers have quite a lot of load devices they want to distribute power to. Rather than having two 12 output devices to give you 24 outputs and taking up 2 user rack space we have 1 device that provides 20 fused protected outputs for customers with a lot of devices they need to distribute power to. It is a little bit for everyone for trying to suit all application requirements.



Jeff: Perfect. What seems to be more popular, the fuses or the breakers?



Blair: I would say, based on our sales history, people tend to opt for breakers. We do sell the fused versions tho. I cant speak for everyone but one of the advantages with the fused breakers is when a fuse or the breaker trips you do need to check the site to make sure there is no issues. It is a protection devices and you need to make sure there is no electrical fault or anything else occurring. But the nice thing about breakers is when it trips and you need to determine what the issue is you can just reset it with your finger to turn it back on where with the fuse you need to make sure you have replacement fuses available to you. I would say it is just a preference for the customer, some are use to using fuses and some prefer to have the breaker option available to them.


We do have the availability with our panels is to have an “e-fuser”, and electronic fuse. You can actually set a current limit for each of the individual output channels. For example you may have a 6-amp load with a current limit of 8 amps and have a 10 amp breaker in there. So if the 8 amps is ever exceeded we can choose to send you an email alarm to say you have an overcurrent situation on your channel, or shut the channel down and turn that device off as a protection feature. Then you can reboot remotely. Its like having a software version of a fuse or breaker … then we have the physical breaker that needs to be physically reset by a person.



Jeff: As you said before, we have our power supplies, but this is like our power switch; taking the supplies and distributing them out to the devices. Now we have both power supplies and power distribution. All of that has intelligence which allows us to manage things that need to be done. That is a must have!



Blair: We have demonstration software on our website, which is really useful if you wanted to go in there and take a look around. You can click on things to turn on and off to get a real concept and idea about the capability of the product. That is always a nice tool to check out as well.



Jeff: Here is the link:


Is there anything else we need to discuss on the distribution side?



Blair: I would just say in addition to DC Power Management and turning devices on and off, we do have the option to monitor 3rd party devices such as smoke detectors or door sensors of your shelter. You can actually input that sensor information into our distribution panel. If the door opens at the tower site, and you do not believe anyone should be there, an email alarm notification or text message could be sent to your phone to let you know. There are some security and environmental sensing aspects to the panels as well.


Lastly I would like to mention the network watchdog feature which is really important to a lot of customers. You are able to send pings out to the routers and switches that are in your local area network at the tower. If your router locks up and you can not communicate with your router then you have lost communication to your whole site. Our device can continue to ping that router because it is connected to it on the local area network within the site itself. If it doesn't get an answer from that router, it presumes it has locked up, you can have it cycle power to that router and reboot it automatically. In a normal circumstance you could potentially lose all your communication to your site because your router has locked up. 



Jeff: That is awesome. We have talked about Watchdog for years, especially when it comes to wireless devices. That is a really neat feature for what you guys are bringing to the table as an add-on benefit. I love that and I have learned something new today!



Blair: We have a lot of customers that have used our gear for awhile and just realized this feature. 



Jeff: That is so great. That was Part 3 on ICT, we have now discussed Power Supplies, Distribution, Who ICT is … make sure you check back in for sesson 4 as we get into the Modular Devices. We are going to piece everything together now that you know the individual pieces.


Blair, thank you again for being here.

For those of you reading, reach out to your sales rep for questions, they can put you in touch with the right people at ICT. We have the forms to fill out to size your products. We are thrilled to have the relationship with ICT and you will also see why once you put it into your system.




To catch up on the last 2 seasons, or view any of our Solution Series segments please click HERE


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