The most complex real-time system in the world is the US power grid. The essential thing that separates it from the other complex systems that make the world work can be summed up in two words: real time.
A recognition of this is driving a new platform, created by Anterix, the telecommunications pioneer based in Woodland Park, New Jersey, to bring together broadband communications networks and support the ongoing revolution. in the country’s public services. The platform will be guided by a panel of utility leaders.
Perhaps the closest thing to the real-time nature of the electricity supply is the air traffic control system. But even that has a little flexibility: not every plane has to land simultaneously.
But every electricity consumer expects 24/7 service at the flick of a switch. Providing this electricity is a continuous miracle that has no equal.
Maintaining the miracle extends far beyond the 3,000 US electric utilities pumping electrons; it encompasses a multitude of complex, ongoing interactions and micro-decisions, which are increasingly delicately balanced as the network itself undergoes revolutionary changes.
Farewell to fossil fuels
These are the changes dictated as the grid transitions from fossil fuels to renewables; as it prepares for more frequent extreme weather events; and how it must seamlessly integrate multiple new and erratic sources of production.
Supporting this is a parallel revolution in communications. Enter Anterix as a leader not only by offering individual private broadband networks, but also by thinking of the totality of communication needs.
Not so long ago, communications meant a phone call or a telex between operators. It is now a continuous, dedicated stream of data at the speed of light.
Anterix’s new platform brings together thinkers and providers from across the 4G and 5G broadband world to deliver services today and prepare for tomorrow. It’s an outgrowth of a unique grouping of hardware and software vendors the company brought together last year and calls it an “active ecosystem.” While these 80 vendors, including Cisco, Ericsson, GE Hitachi Energy, Motorola and Nokia, remain competitive in every way, they are also collaborative.
Anterix President Robert Schwartz advocated a “network” within the utility communications space, ending with a “network of networks.”
Andres Carvallo, president of CMG Consulting and professor at Texas State University, speaking at a United States Energy Association press briefing recently, said the key to the future of data and communications for utilities public was broadband.
“[Anterix] would like to see information flow as easily through a communications network as electricity does from multiple sources to multiple users,” he said.
Anterix said when announcing the integrated platform: “At the center will be a cloud-based 4G/5G core, enabling greater resiliency and improved services between participating networks, including mutual aid, cybersecurity, shared infrastructure and the integration of distributed energy sources”.
Utility Heavy Hitters
The platform is overseen by the Utilities Strategic Advisory Board comprised of C-suite utility leaders from some of the largest utilities, including Dominion Energy
Steve Wooten, Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Dominion Energy, said, “It is always beneficial to work with other utilities to address issues of industry-wide significance, and the he adoption of private broadband and the solutions it can power is an excellent choice for enforcing this collaboration. Through the new Utilities Strategic Advisory Board, we will help support a vibrant ecosystem of utility-centric innovations and solutions that are valuable to each utility individually and to the broader utility community as a collective. .
A favorable view comes from Charles King, chief technology officer of Evergy. “The electric utility industry is known for its collaborative spirit, and adding a solutions platform informed by utility leaders is a natural fit for that inclination. When our private 900 MHz LTE network is deployed, we will clearly benefit from working with other utilities, including our neighbor Ameren, where we share 25 counties, to identify and prioritize issues that will affect us all.