US energy suppliers sign deals to boost telecoms connectivity

Utilities Telecom Council
Telecoms: NorthWestern Energy has bought licenses for communication spectrum Upper 700 MHz A Block

US utilities last week announced agreements to improve access to telecommunication technology during the Utilities Telecom Council conference held in Atlanta.

Electricity and natural gas supplier in America’s Upper Midwest and Northwest NorthWestern Energy has confirmed an agreement with Access Spectrum to buy multiple licenses for the communication spectrum Upper 700 MHz A Block covering Montana and South Dakota.

NorthWestern Energy said it will use the bandwidth for a variety of fixed and mobile data solutions.

Commenting on the deal, Michael Gottdenker, chairman and CEO of Access Spectrum, said: “For too long, utilities have had to compete with commercial carriers for licensed spectrum through an auction. And for too long, utility operations have been spread over too many bands. The Upper 700 MHz A Block solves all of these problems.”

Next-generation packet services

Meanwhile, in the Tennessee Valley Authority, a government body that provides electricity for business customers and local power distributors, has contracted utility communications company RAD to implement a cyber-security platform.

RAD’s multiservice access platform is aimed at power utility migration projects to support automation functionalities, along with a variety of low-speed, high-speed, and voice services.

While TVA’s communications services will continue to run over their self-maintained network, the RAD system offers a dual backplane that supports both circuit-switched and packet-switched networks either separately or concurrently, the energy company said in a statement.

TVA said this will allow a smooth migration for implementing next-generation packet services, including smart grid applications, and anticipates the impending NERC-CIP v5 requirements for cyber security initiatives.