STREAMLINED NETWORK INFRASTRUCTURE FOR ELECTRIC POWER GENERATION, TRANSPORTATION, AND DISTRIBUTION PROVIDERS.
Electric power utilities are responsible for the safe and reliable delivery of electricity to residential and business consumers. While low speed communication networks have traditionally been deployed alongside power lines for Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) applications, recent developments in Smart Grid technology are driving dramatic increases in network bandwidth requirements. In particular, the advent of smart meters that record and communicate power consumption to the power company in near real-time has transformed the way electric companies do business. The elimination of error-prone and expensive manual meter readings, and the introduction of time-of-use billing and real-time consumption monitoring have allowed the utilities to streamline operational expenses, while smoothing out the peaks in consumption where electricity costs are highest. However, this new data-centric mode of operation has placed a massive burden on the utilities’ communications networks, as the amount of data being transmitted between the operations center and the customer has skyrocketed.
While smart meters can also be used to measure natural gas or water consumption, the focus over the past few years has been in the area of power consumption. Smart meter deployments are well underway with widespread deployments across North America and Europe.