Who should build “my” (Utility) communication network?

Gathering more than 10 thousand attendees from all over the world, at its 25th anniversary, DISTRIBUTECH had multiple agendas. The most interesting one for the unwired people then was the question introduced in this post’s title. Utilities mainly question that: “Who should build my communication network?”. Showing a general concern on provisioning a communication network for Utilities, Americans seem to be a major step ahead of Europeans.

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During 2014, an EIT ICT Labs project (LTE4SE) was run by KTH, Siemens and Ericsson Euro Lab trying to see whether commercial LTE networks are capable of provisioning Utility communication needs or not, and if so, who is going to build/run any such network/s. The first outcome of this project was that LTE is the only telecommunication standard that can guarantee 4 out of 6 requirement classes of Communication protocols being used for grids. Going back to Americans being an step ahead, this seemed not to be even a question for US utilities. The only concern for them is still the question introduced in the topic.

As a task Led by KTH in the LTE4SE project, which I presented at DISTRIBUTECH, we have actually discussed Network Options for utilities and came up with three options:

  • Private LTE (a utility builds its own network),
  • Public LTE (a MNO provides services on top of its commercial network to Utilities),
  • M2M specific network operated by M2M operator.

Economically speaking, the first option is out of the discussion while originally the “Public LTE” seem to be a better fit. But there are business concerns involved, such as service layer agreement issues and lack of guarantee by MNOs to Utilities. Just a glimpse; MNOs offer utilities “Best Effort” services !!!

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