Private LTE offers power utilities a dynamic, standards-backed communications infrastructure to support their smart grid ambitions, says Frost & Sullivan
London, 15 November, 2017 – Until recently, much of the distribution network was still ‘dark’ and only partial connectivity was necessary for day-to-day operations. Furthermore, changing patterns of generation and consumption are making unprecedented demands on the electricity power grid. Distributed sources such as wind, solar and micro-grid are creating intermittent and reverse power flows in the networks that connect to customers.
At the same time, the growing popularity of heat pumps and electric vehicle (EV) charging piles is increasing peaks in demand and shifting them to different locations and times of day.
The smart grid must adapt to these dynamic and unpredictable conditions – a radical challenge for an industry founded on centralised, bulk generation and passive consumption. To do so, power utilities are demanding a communications network that is equally as dynamic, secure and reliable.
Global smart grid development is at different levels and stages. Utilities in developed and fast-growing economies are investing in Distribution Automation — an intelligent, connected infrastructure that provides real-time visibility and control. The fastest-growing regions for advanced metering are South America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa. High-performance communications is the key to a fully automated, efficient power system.
Sponsored by Huawei, “Private LTE for the Smart Grid” is Frost & Sullivan’s analysis of communications options in the smart grid era. This white paper examines the co-evolution of communications networks and the grid, identifying how Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) can benefit from the latest developments in LTE cellular wireless.
For more information on this analysis, please click here.
“Standards-based LTE is now mature, with proven performance in the world’s most demanding commercial telecom and vertical industry markets. LTE-Advanced delivers high speeds over a wide range of frequency spectrum, including utility-owned bands suitable for private enterprise networks,” noted Sheridan Nye, Principal Analyst, Digital Transformation at Frost & Sullivan. “Wireless cellular is therefore becoming a cost-effective alternative to optical fibre that avoids the cost of laying cable and delivering high-bandwidth performance with more flexibility than alternative fixed line and proprietary wireless networks.”
Furthermore, emerging standards for narrowband LTE in licensed and unlicensed spectrum offers a cost-effective communications option for advanced metering, with security, low latency and range plus a future-proof roadmap to 5G.
“Communications for the smart grid must be secure, reliable and ubiquitous. Private LTE networks put control back in the hands of the power distributors,” said Peng Jianhua, President of Huawei’s Enterprise Wireless Business Domain.
“Utilities are weighing the advantages of LTE against the challenges of introducing yet another communications technology into their domain,” adds Ms Nye. “Over time, the benefits of high-capacity LTE-Advanced and optimised NB-IoT will become central to enterprise operations in many sectors, including the smart grid”. A single licensed band, ideally sub-1 GHz in FDD mode, could be used across an LTE-based smart distribution network and a NB-IoT-based AMI network.
The MulteFire Alliance, membered by Qualcomm, Intel, Ericsson, Huawei, Nokia and others, is standardising the use of narrowband LTE (‘NB-IoT’) in shared and globally unlicensed frequency bands named “NB-IoT-U”. NB-IoT-U can be deployed in an unlicensed or lightly licensed ISM band in a standalone mode for a lightweight AMI network.
Private ownership of LTE networks allows a grid operator to take total control of its destiny and have confidence in a future-proofed and standards-based network that offers all the benefits of a global mainstream technology.
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