Why Private Broadband Networks Will Play a Critical Role in Utility Transformation

In a briefing, Navigant says private LTE wireless networks will address cybersecurity threats, grid modernization, and national disasters

The electric power industry faces declining load growth, increasing use of distributed energy resources, and the arrival of new competition. Simultaneously, there is a need for autonomous grid operations and greater situational awareness, which depend on an advanced communications network. 

In a briefing prepared for Anterix, Richelle Elberg, principal research analyst at Navigant Research, explained that as the Fourth Industrial Revolution unfolds, a secure, reliable, and resilient broadband communication network will be the foundation for advancements in delivering safe, clean, and affordable energy. 

Elberg said this is a call to action for those in utility C-suites, who must recognize and plan for this shift and build a private wireless network now to enable grid modernization and support digitization for decades to come. 

According to the briefing, utility leaders should:

  • Identify economic benefits and risk mitigation impact from the deployment of a private broadband wireless network.
  • Band together to accelerate the FCC proceeding with rules favorable to utility needs.
  • Collaborate through industry associations on the development of cost-effective solutions for mission-critical use cases.
  • Create networks for utilities that interoperate for individual and combined benefit including increasing security and improving customer reliability.

“Utility industry C-suite executives nationwide are urged to band together now to make the most of this critical but finite asset — spectrum — and the interoperable network of networks it will support,” Elberg said. “The industry’s long-term success, even its very survival, is at stake.” 

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