The introduction of smart meters and smart grid sensors demands a cost-effective and easily deployed communications solution. Laboratory and field tests have demonstrated that LTE networks successfully meet the technical requirements for smart grid communications.
A key technology for energy grids in the 21st century is a pervasive data communications network connected to millions of smart meters and thousands of sensors on the low- and medium-voltage lines, devices and sub-stations. In conjunction with the existing communications networks (SCADA) used to manage the high-voltage transmission lines and devices, the resulting grid is called a smart grid.
Chief technology officers (CTOs) of electricity utilities are searching for proven, cost-effective communications solutions to provide connectivity to the meters and sensors that must be deployed to build their smart grids. This is where modern standards-based communications technologies – such as LTE – are ideal.
Both laboratory and field research confirm that LTE is well suited to field area network (FAN) communication to distributed devices, or in other words “last-mile” connectivity. Use cases for electricity distribution include smart metering, distribution monitoring and control, field workforce, distributed energy, micro-grid operation and electric vehicle charging.
LTE offers very low latency, high throughput and QoS differentiation in a single radio access technology that is supported by a global standard. The evolution of LTE through global standardization ensures a future-proofed technology that does not compromise investments in network infrastructure.
These communication networks may be either private (utility owned), public (operator owned), or hybrid (private virtual network over a public operator network), depending on the regulatory and commercial situation of the utility.
In short, the design and configuration of an LTE network to meet the requirements of a distribution utility requires detailed understanding of the communications technology, and of the consequences of design and configuration choices on the communications network and thus – most importantly – on the actual operation and management of the electricity grid.
Download White Paper