Conference: Metering, Billing/CIS America 2007
Location: San Antonio, TX, USA
Presenter: Heath Glass
Abstract: Presented by Heath Glass at Metering, Billing/CIS America 2007

Leveraging the Power of Mesh

Utility communications networks come in many flavors but are typically deployed for a single purpose such as Automated Meter Reading, SCADA, DA, or other remote telemetry application.  These single purpose networks may work well for one purpose, but trying to add additional applications can be cumbersome and easily overburden the single purpose network.  As a result utilities often end up with multiple communication infrastructures, each dedicated to their single purpose. 

This can add a huge amount of unnecessary overhead in managing and maintaining these networks.  Telecommunication engineers often find themselves responsible for multiple communication infrastructures all of which require unique skills, equipment, and maintenance procedures for managing the network.

Mesh networks provide the solution to this dilemma.  A true mesh network provides multiple simultaneous paths for data and is robust enough to support multiple applications over the same infrastructure.  With a true mesh, communication channels are created between each node in the mesh each one of which can be used to transport data for a variety of applications. 

A mesh node designated for a DA application, such as cap bank control, can also serve as a repeater for meter data across the network.  Adding new nodes to the mesh creates additional communication paths and may only serve to strengthen the communication infrastructure.  This paper describes how to leverage the power of the mesh network for multiple applications, while providing built in redundancy and fail-over for mission critical data.