Nokia has announced that US utility Ameren has won the 2020 Utility Technology Council (UTC) APEX award for its groundbreaking Nokia-powered private LTE field trial.
The trial, which exceeded performance and scalability expectations, is part of the company’s digital transformation journey to a more reliable and sustainable electric grid.
The UTC is a global association focused on the intersection of telecommunications and utility infrastructure. The UTC APEX award recognises individuals and organisations who have implemented innovative projects, taken actions, or initiated procedures that leverage communications technologies or information systems to make a significant impact on the utility industry.
Ameren, which powers 2.4 million electric customers and more than 900,000 natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area, is installing a robust fiber IP/MPLS network to connect critical assets and operations centers as part of its digital transformation plan.
The next stage is to extend communications to support the proliferation of grid control devices that are being deployed for distribution automation (DA) and Internet of Things (IOT) applications.
The field trial allowed Ameren to determine if P-LTE technology was the right fit for the company’s needs, including whether Nokia’s P-LTE could provide the required performance metrics and operational and cost efficiencies required.
Ameren successfully executed the P-LTE field trial in Missouri and Illinois during 2019 to validate 14 use cases for DA and enabling workforce mobility. Each of the use cases represented an old methodology of connectivity being replaced by the new Nokia P-LTE network, which simplified the management and maintenance of the overall communications network by replacing 20 networks with just one. Ameren extended its proven IP/MPLS service, security and maintenance environment over P-LTE to critical grid assets on the edge.
Based upon the trial results, Nokia’s P-LTE far exceeded expectations for performance and scalability requirements for field communications. In addition to better than expected technical results, the trial also highlighted the significant daily operational impact.
These included a dramatic reduction in the number of networks to support, fewer skillsets to maintain, fewer spares, and fewer maintenance contracts. The integration with the IP/MPLS backbone enabled its well-known service, security and management environment to be extended towards the distribution grid edge with P-LTE which ensures performance and simplifies operations.
Mike Calabrese, senior vice president, Americas, Nokia Enterprise, said: “We’re extremely pleased that the UTC is recognizing Ameren for its digital transformation efforts. By focusing on P-LTE for DA and workforce mobility, Ameren can now address critical elements in many utilities’ transformation plans. Ameren’s private wireless field trial is a valuable industry resource that will help utility companies around the world more intelligently guide their transformation while reducing risk and increasing efficiency.”