NA utilities looking to cellular network for smart grid
In recent years, there has been an upsurge of interest in public cellular networks for smart grid communications, which is slowly gaining acceptance and momentum across the world, becoming as common as power line communications (PLC) and radio frequency (RF) mesh. However, while cellular has been used for some time by European utilities, only recently have North American firms begun to commit to public networks for critical smart grid applications, according to Navigant Research.
Recent advances in 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE), combined with multimode chipsets and aggressive pricing from carriers, have helped build a case for cellular.
“The ubiquitous network coverage and significantly improved reliability and security of public cellular networks make them an increasingly attractive option for smart grid communications,” said Richelle Elberg, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “More smart grid communications vendors are adopting cellular-based solutions, preferring to be technology agnostic rather than rely on just one or two communication platforms.”
Navigant expects utilities in North America to turn to cellular networks in increasing numbers, while utilities in countries such as the United Kingdom and Japan also drive the use of cellular in smart grids. Cellular networks are also expected to play a significant role in supporting multimillion smart meter rollouts across the Asia Pacific region. A 50 million smart meter roll out between 2013 and 2020 is expected to provide a boost to the cellular communications for smart grids in central and southern U.K.
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