Utilities need improved communication networks


William R. Moroney,
President & CEO,
Washington, DC, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — October 11, 2010 – To successfully ensure reliable core energy and water utilities in the 21st century, utilities will need to manage a mix of private communications networks and commercial communications services, according to a new report from the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC).

The report, A Study of Utility Communications Needs, is aimed to identify the key characteristics that both utilities and communications service providers must take into account when supporting utility communications, particularly as these communications relate to the smart grid.

Among the key conclusions are that reliability is the number”one criteria for utility communications networks, whether in networks built, owned and managed by utilities or in communications services purchased or leased from external providers, and the advent of the smart grid promises to create a more uniform set of architectures, configurations and applications for utilities in the future.

The scope, structure and technologies of utility communications vary widely from utility to utility. However, under current and future technology scenarios, certain key technical factors are mandatory for safe, reliable and secure utility operations. These include high reliability, higher capacity or bandwidth, low latencies, ubiquitous coverage, tight security measures, and uninterrupted back”up power.

Finally communications service providers face increased opportunities in utility communications but must meet utilities’ key reliability, technical and cost requirements, particularly when it comes to core and operations networks where any failure can destabilize or shut”down the utility’s functions. Further, outside service providers must offer cost effective solutions, with price a top reason why utilities might turn to or alternatively be discouraged from tapping external communications companies.

“Energy and water companies need a range of advanced technologies to navigate the communications challenges we face in building 21st century intelligent networks and emergency response systems,” said William R. Moroney, UTC president and CEO. “Bottom line: utilities cannot build all the communications networks they need, and best of breed communications service providers will be essential to their success.”