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USB chargers are everywhere. In fact, they have become more necessity than convenience. What’s great is that you can find them just about every place you need them - wall outlets and car panels and even airplane seats.You are probably most familiar with USB type-A – the standard. USB type-A connectors only plug in one way (which is most always never the way you try to plug it in the first time) and are big and bulky. The good news is that USB type-A has some competition. USB type-C is a technology that is gaining steam.


Why Small Tech Matters

Technology is a big deal for PSAPs and Ops Centers. Usually you're tracking radio and CAD equipment updates. Sometimes the little things, like connections, cords and cables are taken for granted. In reality, managing cable storage, deployment and performance is a chronic low-level headache for many IT technicians. A simple upgrade to something like a universal USB connection might just provide some relief. Will the USB type-C provide mainstream simplification for multi-media tech integration? That remains to be seen. What we know is that it's gaining in popularity and for good reason.

The C actually "main-streamed" in late 2014, early 2015 when cables became available. Now, general-use markets are catching up and integrating the receptacles into host hardware which is where they need to be most useful.

But do we need another USB?!


Good question. ...Though, you might be happy to have this one. The type-C USB is projected to become a universal solution. Let’s take a look at how type-C is different than the current solutions, why type-C may be more useful, and what that means for you today.

What is USB Type-C?


USB type-C has a new, much smaller physical connector that is roughly the size of a micro USB connector. The USB-C connector supports new USB performance standards including USB 3.1 and USB power delivery (USB PD). The interface is designed to accommodate faster speeds and improved power delivery. The USB-C will be closely intertwined with other new standards as well.

According to Jeff Ravencraft, USB-IF’s President and COO:

The most intriguing thing about Type-C connectors might be the new "Alternate Mode" spec that allows physical USB Type-C connectors and cables to send non-USB data.

How-To Geek expands on this, sharing:

USB type-C ports can also support a variety of different protocols using “alternate modes,” which allows you to have adapters that can output HDMI, VGA, DisplayPort, or other types of connections from that single USB port.
Apple’s USB-C Digital Multiport Adapter is a good example of this, offering an adapter that allows you to connect an HDMI, VGA, larger USB Type-A connectors, and smaller USB type-C connector via a single port. The mess of USB, HDMI, DisplayPort, VGA, and power ports on typical laptops can be streamlined into a single type of port.



C has a design advantage that you'll love - it is reversible! You’ll no longer have to flip the connector around several times before you insert it correctly. And you know how you sometimes have to carry around several different cable types just to be able to charge multiple devices? If made standard, USB type-C could change that.

With its improved function and compliance with new standards, you should see many major manufacturers making the change.

C’s Got More Power!


Today’s standard USB connection provides roughly 2.5 watts of power, which is enough to charge your phone or tablet, and not much else. USB-C will change that, providing 100 watts of power! To give you some perspective, a laptop typically requires about 60 watts to charge. If you’ve gone shopping for a new Macbook or Chromebook Pixel lately, you have seen that they have both adopted USB-C charging ports. With Apple in the lead, you can expect it will be adopted as an industry standard.


You can expect data transmission to be faster as well. It should be as good, or better, than existing top-line solutions including USB 3.1 Standard A, Type B, and Micro-B 10 Pin.

At present, USB 3’s theoretical bandwidth is 5 Gbps and USB 3.1’s bandwidth is 10. USB-C will be as good or better.

What Does USB Type-C Mean for You?

These new technological innovations don’t mean that you will have to throw away all of your old cables and connections; you will just need a physical adapter. It’s highly likely that many computers will begin to house USB type-C ports, as well as USB type-A ports while the market fully transitions.

Lucky for us, we will be able to gradually transition from old devices with conventional USB connections to new devices with USB type-C connectors.


What Does USB Type-C Mean for PSAPs and Ops Centers?

Much like personal technology and devices, commercial systems will begin to see USB-C integration in the coming years. The advantages for commercial applications include:

  • Simplified video cabling
  • More powerful, faster data transmission
  • Shorter charging times for ancillary equipment and personal devices

If you are budgeted for technology or furniture upgrades in the next couple years, be sure to ask your vendors about integration advantages of USB type-C connections in applicable equipment.

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