Private Networks

Evergy details its private LTE network buildout plans

Evergy, an investor-owned utility covering around 1.6 million customers across Kansas and Missouri, is moving forward with a major private wireless LTE network buildout.

The company did not answer questions from Light Reading about the cost of the project. But Evergy's Andrew Baker wrote that the network could eventually span just over 100 cell towers covering roughly 49,000 square miles, or 80% of Evergy's service area.

"Evergy is currently building the network primarily to support the thousands of sensors needed to provide grid modernization," Baker explained. "By doing so, this will allow us to provide stronger reliability for our customers while controlling costs."

In a release, Ericsson said it activated 20 of those sites in October, after just two months of work. The vendor will provide the radios for the network. Evergy used utility telecommunications consultant Burns & McDonnell to help design the network.

(Source: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo)
(Source: dpa picture alliance/Alamy Stock Photo)

Evergy's Baker explained that the company is currently deploying LTE technology. But he said "if bandwidth demands require us to shift to a 5G network we have the capability to make the transition."

The utility is using two spectrum bands for the network: It will start with 900MHz and then augment the effort with 2.5GHz starting in mid-2023. Evergy is leasing its 900MHz spectrum licenses from Anterix in a 20-year, $30.2 million deal announced last year.

Baker did not answer questions about Evergy's 2.5GHz holdings, including whether the company purchased the spectrum in the FCC's recent 2.5GHz spectrum auction.

"We are in the beginning phase of the network," Baker added. "The 900MHz is expected to be completed by mid-2024. The 2.5GHz phase will go through the end of 2025."

Evergy is one of several big US utility companies moving forward with a private LTE network. Avangrid, Xcel Energy, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Ameren and the New York Power Authority are also in various stages of testing or deploying such networks. Anterix – a company currently licensing its spectrum to utilities for such networks – has promised that there may be dozens more utilities planning similar efforts.

However, Anterix and Ericsson aren't the only companies working to service such utilities. On the spectrum side, Ligado Networks and Dish Network are among those hoping to ink deals with utilities; meanwhile, Nokia, Airspan and others are hoping to supply the equipment.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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