Smart Grid Reality Check

11:25 AM -- LONDON -- GridComms -- This morning, I had a view of the telecom industry from the perspective of energy providers at a conference dedicated to smart grid developments. And this new perspective looked to me like a reality check for those telecom network operators with smart grid aspirations.

For example, one of the utility companies that presented here today made it quite clear that when it came to energy distribution automation -- a mission-critical function of the smart grid -- it wants to be in control of its own communications network and not rely on a third party like telecom network operator.

Anthony Walsh, specification manager, procurement, at Irish electricity distribution provider ESB Networks, said, "If you want to do something responsibly, you don't let it out to a third party."

And when it comes the communications technology needed for smart grid deployments, GPRS just doesn't cut it. ESB uses GPRS networks for medium-voltage -- that is, not critical -- distribution automation, but it would not consider using the technology for more mission-critical automation.

"We don’t actually trust GPRS, there's no way we're going to rely on GPRS -- because it's not under our control," said Walsh. "Because the networks have crashed before … we need to have our own system."

So the message here for telecom operators is: Don't expect utility companies to outsource their big smart grid deployments entirely onto your networks. And don't offer a GPRS system to ESB Networks in Ireland -- it won't be received well.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:18:48 PM
re: Smart Grid Reality Check

You mean utility companies don't get it when telcos talk about OAM&P for their GPON ONTs? Or the ILEC's MDF in the CO?



Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 5:18:48 PM
re: Smart Grid Reality Check

Hi Joane,

I think a hybrid approach is probably the way to go. But I was struck by the differences I saw here between utiliies and telcos.

One of the biggest challenges to the smart grid that was noted here was that the telecom industry and utillity industry speak entirely different languages. 


joanengebretson 12/5/2012 | 5:18:48 PM
re: Smart Grid Reality Check

Hello Michelle

I think utility company attitudes toward telcos regarding the smart grid will vary by geography.

What I'm hearing in the U.S. (perhaps because it's so spread out) is that utility companies would like to control everything & not rely on telcos BUT that they realize they may have to go with a hybrid approach because it may not be cost-effective to build their own network everywhere they need it.




Duh! 12/5/2012 | 5:18:45 PM
re: Smart Grid Reality Check

Any more than telcos get it when utilities talk about integrating synchrophasors and Volt-VAR optimization with existing SCADA.

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