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September 4, 2013

Using 4G technology in Smart Grid

Smart grid initiatives are helping electric utilities to improve operational efficiency, improve power reliability, data analytics, decision making and much more. Communication plays a key role to achieve true value out of smart grid applications. With the deployment of smart meter a huge amount of bi directional data is flowing across the grid network and handling of this data is a real challenge for utilities. For this utilities are focusing on new and innovative technologies that can help them in developing a fast, robust and secure communication infrastructure so that network and data traffic can be managed effectively.

Smart grid applications require fast, effective, secure and reliable communication technology for real time bi directional data transfer across the network. Utilities do not want transmission of smart grid data coming from various sources on such a network that is shared by other customers. On the other side fourth generation wireless technologies provides better control and security unlike other technologies like GSM/GPRS, Wi-fi, RF etc. it also provides real time application support including voice and video with two way communications.  With 4G it is quick to find and restore outages remotely hence increases grid reliability.

Utilities will have following advantages if they choose 4G:

·         Fast and reliable network with advance traffic management tools which are under control of utility which is under control of service providers while using other networks.

·         Low latency due to which real time application support including video and voice data.

·         Provides support to applications like mobile workforce, SCADA, demand response and HAN which requires real time data.

·         Highly secure network allows utility to rest assure about confidentiality.

·         Availability of Wide range of frequency spectrum.

·         Backhaul connectivity with other networks

However 4G being a new technology also has some drawbacks like it is highly capital intensive and infrastructure setup cost is very high. Technical expertise is needed to setup and maintain the network if utility choose to deploy its own network. If we consider the long term vision then using 4G will result in huge ROI.