EUTC and TCCA sign MoU to examine critical broadband networks for utilities

The European Utilities Telecom Council (EUTC) and TCCA have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enable information sharing around the ongoing development of critical mobile broadband. This formalises their cooperation in advancing critical communications.

EUTC is a trade association representing electric, gas and water utilities and other critical infrastructure providers on their information and technology needs. Utilities already use a wide variety of connectivity types including copper, fibre and narrowband radio. The association says these are not easily scalable to support the increase in connectivity that smart grids demand.

As such, utilities companies around the world are examining large scale private wide area wireless networks as a foundation for future smart grids in the medium voltage and low voltage layers.

Julian Stafford, technical director at EUTC, commented, “The evolution of robust, cost effective energy smart grids is imperative to facilitate the most efficient use of renewable energy sources in our collective attempts to minimise the environmental impact of energy use in domestic, industrial and transportation sectors. We must reduce carbon emissions very significantly in order to avoid the worst effects of climate change. However, this increased use of renewable energy must not impact the reliability of our energy grids – and for that to work out we need massively increased visibility and control or a very widely distributed asset base where currently no meaningful connectivity exists.”

“This secure communications fabric can ideally be supported by network technology based on the standards generated as part of the LTE release of definitions, built and operated in a tightly controlled manner. The demands of the utility sector in development of these solutions have substantial areas of overlap with the work which is being carried out by TCCA and other stakeholders, driven by the needs of public safety users. The MoU with TCCA will allow sharing of valuable technical expertise regarding the deployment of mission critical broadband wireless systems and will provide mutual benefits for members of both communities. The MoU also recognises the intrinsic link between the availability of electricity, water and gas and public safety.”

Tony Gray, chief executive, TCCA, added, “It is essential that critical national infrastructure networks have access to the best available technology and security features to ensure seamless operations. With this MoU in place we can learn more about the specific needs of these users as critical broadband services develop, and share our members’ expertise with EUTC to enable a wider knowledge base and a stronger ecosystem.”